This rare, first-hand account of the birth of the New York subway graffiti movement during the 1970s is the first and only graffiti book to reveal what happened behind the scenes when writers put their lives on the line to grab a scrap of fame from a faceless urban landscape. Through personal interviews and over 275 full-color, unpublished photographs, the colourful origins of subway graffiti are brought to life.Legends such as Taki 183, Bama 1, Phase 2, and CoCo 144 - as well as the city officials who saw the writers as public menaces and their art as vandalism - give accounts of every-day struggles, each full of new advancements, excitement and risk. Alongside archival photographs of everything from vibrant bubble-letter and 3-D pieces to the Holy Grail, are maps, images and ephemera that help fill out this story. A celebration in words and pictures of graffiti's Golden Age, "Graffiti Kings" is a book sure to be coveted by those fascinated and inspired by this uniquely American urban art form.
Jack Stewart, a painter, muralist and art historian, first began to photograph graffiti as it made its transition from the streets to the subways. He was one of the first observers to understand the power and significance of tags, and he befriended and interviewed many of the writers who appear in this collection. This text is based on Stewart's doctoral thesis, completed before his death in 2005 and has been curated and edited by his wife, Regina Stewart.