Born on January 2, 1940 in Sewicley, Pennsylvania, Chalfant is a renowned and acclaimed photographer and cameraman dedicated to urban culture, renowned for his graffiti and photography and films about breakdancing. Distinguished by his knowledge of hip hop and underground culture, his photographs are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Graduated from Stanford University with a specialization in Greek, he wrote in conjunction with Martha Cooper a book on the art of graffiti in New York City, “Subway Art”, in addition to the second part of his book “SpraycanArt”. In 1983, he co-produced and carried out the research and photographic documentation of the documentary Style War. He is considered one of the top authorities of the underground art of New York. Other works include: Flyin ‘Cut Sleeves, a documentary about gang leaders in the Bronx in the 70s; Visit Palestine: Ten Days on the West Bank, based on his visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories in 2000, and his most recent documentary on the South Bronx: From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale. It is a chronicle of two generations that grew up in the same streets of the Bronx, NY, and both used rhythm as their instrument of rebellion; in the eyes of the generation of the 50’s, were the rhythms of Cuba; in the eyes of the children of the 70 ‘were the rhythms of rap.
Chalfant has indicated that his influences have been several: “In college, my mentor was Charles Rowan Beye, the Greek scholar. Actually I did not have a mentor to influence my artistic work, but I did admire sculptors like David Smith and Eduardo Chillida. In the field of visual anthropology, the ethnographic film director Jean Rouch. “
The Centro de Arte Tomás y Valiente faces the great retrospective of Henry Chalfant, where you can enjoy, for the first time in a single exhibition, from his emblematic photographs of the trains of the 80s, his anthropological photographs, videos and installations, exceptionally curated by Suso33.