Icon of street art photography

  • by Team Urban Nation

“Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” will run at the URBAN NATION museum until 1 August 2021
A first: the opening was also streamed live

After being closed for a month, the URBAN NATION museum reopened last Friday with the exhibition Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. Over the opening weekend alone, more than 1,300 visitors came to see the US photographer’s first comprehensive retrospective.

In addition to the museum visitors, more than 700 people interested in the exhibition opening followed it digitally. On the opening evening, the music journalist Falk Schacht and the Dutch graffiti artist Mick La Rock guided the audience through the exhibition via a live stream that also featured exclusive interviews with Martha Cooper, the curators Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo, who are currently in New York, as well as other artists and contemporaries. With the two-part opening concept of a reduced number of visitors at the museum plus a live stream, the URBAN NATION made it possible for Berlin-based as well as worldwide street art and graffiti fans to attend the opening despite the social distancing rules.

Exhibition shows Martha Cooper’s oeuvre

The extensive retrospective covers Martha Cooper’s artistic output over ten decades and features not only her well-known photographs but also unpublished pictures and personal items. Also on show at the exhibition, besides 300 photo prints and 1,200 digital photographs, are 250 objects from Cooper’s collection such as Blackbooks, for example, the original concept for Subway Art (with Henry Chalfant, 1984), 35 works by other artists in the remix section as well as blow-ups by Dondi, Lady Pink, Keith Haring, Lil’ Crazy Legs and others. It traces Cooper’s life from the moment she was given her first camera at the age of three to her first successes in New York and her current work as a world-famous photographer. Her iconic pictures have had a profound impact on the cultural memory of entire generations of artists. She has documented and shaped. the international graffiti and urban art scene for over 40 years

Vitrine Ausstellung Urban Nation Museum
Inside the URBAN NATION museum. Photo by Nika Kramer.

The exhibition is also a trip down memory lane for Martha Cooper herself:

“The exhibition is the most comprehensive retrospective of my work to date. It covers all angles of my photographic output so far. In the first decades, I used an analogue camera; most of those pictures had not been digitalised yet. So I had to dig through a huge amount of old slides and negatives. I have used a digital camera since 2001 – but my analogue work goes back to my high school days. The exhibition forced me to revisit the past,” says the photographer.

The retrospective under the aegis of director Jan Sauerwald is the URBAN NATION museum’s first exhibition of photographs and at the same time the highlight of this year’s programme.

“It is a particular honour for the URBAN NATION museum to be able to present the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of this important photographer’s work. The show is also unusual because multimedia components as well as a selection of works by others in Cooper’s artists’ network will feature alongside her photographs. We intend to illustrate her photographic and documentary approach and to highlight her importance for the international graffiti movement. We are also focusing on some of her so far unknown works. We are particularly pleased to be taking part in the European Month of Photography 2020 with this show; in fact, our exhibition is actually presented as one of the programme’s highlights,” says Jan Sauerwald.

Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures
2 October 2020 to 1 August 2021
Bülowstrasse 7, 10783 Berlin-Schöneberg, Germany

Opening hours:
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Wednesdays,
12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays

Admission is free


The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with essays by Carlo McCormick, Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo, Sean Corcoran, Susan Welchman, Akim Walta, Nika Kramer and Jan Sauerwald that can be purchased from the URBAN NATION museum.


Martha Cooper, the curators Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo and also the director of the URBAN NATION museum, Jan Sauerwald, are available for interviews.

Press images:

Press images available free of charge on request. Please contact us at: pr@urban-nation.com

About the URBAN NATION museum:

The URBAN NATION is an international institution for artists and projects: a museum that introduces new aspects to Berlin’s cultural landscape. URBAN NATION rethinks the classic museum concept. Its work is not limited to the actual museum premises; it also curates works of art in public spaces. Interactive workshops and education formats inject new ideas into urban life. In the cultural education area, for example, the museum collaborates with several primary schools in Berlin. The URBAN NATION museum is a Stiftung Berliner Leben charity project.

For more information, see: https://urban-nation.com/de/

The exhibition has been organised within the scope of the European Month of Photography.

(Museums Management: Jan Sauerwald)