Books in the MCL Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures.  Steven P. Harrington, Jaime Rojo, and Martha Cooper.

Steven P. Harrington, Jaime Rojo, and Martha Cooper, Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. 2020

Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” is both a book and a catalogue published to accompany the eponymous exhibition of the photographic career of Martha Cooper at the Urban Nation Museum in Berlin (October 04, 2020 – May15, 2022). The book features lavish photo spreads showcasing Martha’s photographic journey over six decades, with a primary focus on Cooper’s pioneering documentation of the nascent graffiti and hip-hop movements in late 1970s New York City. Additionally, the book highlights lesser-known series such as those delving into Japanese tattoo culture and others into her captivating street photography works. A collection of essays further enriches the publication, penned by esteemed contributors including art critic, curator, and author Carlo McCormick; author and photographer Nika Kramer; author, curator, and Hip Hop historian Akim Walta; National Geographic’s chief photo editor Susan Welchman; the curator of prints and photographs at the Museum of the City of New York, Sean Corcoran; and the exhibition’s curators, Jaime Rojo and Steven P. Harrington.

Martha Cooper is a Manhattan-based documentary photographer known for captivating depictions of graffiti and hip-hop culture, which are considered foundational to the archival record and have garnered global recognition and extensive publication. “Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures”, a pioneering endeavor that marked the premier all-encompassing retrospective of Martha Cooper’s distinguished photographic trajectory up to now. This publication serves as a lasting testament, adeptly elucidating not only the essence of the exhibition but also presenting a view of Martha’s overarching impact on the realm of photography at large, while weaving an integral thread into the annals of graffiti and hip-hop history.

The hardcover book embraces a treasure trove of previously unreleased photographs, accompanied by enlightening interviews and a compendium of 40 poignant quotes sourced from an eclectic spectrum of Martha’s contemporaries, artists, authorities in the domains of photography, folklore, graffiti, and Hip Hop. The compilation extends to include companions, longstanding friends, and cherished family members. Of noteworthy mention is the book’s cover, graced by a seldom-seen photograph that encapsulates the essence of graffiti writer Skeme, engaging in the daring pursuit of train surfing amidst the urban expanse of New York City, as immortalized by Martha’s discerning lens in 1982.

The book unfolds across nine distinctive sections, each dedicated to Cooper’s captivating photographs, and accompanied by an illuminating introductory narrative. These segments are as follows: Graffiti, Street Play, Hip Hop, New York City, Martha’s World, Martha Remixed, Tokyo Tattoo, Artist at Work, and Sowebo/Soweto 2006-16.

At 230 pages, the book is published by Urban Nation Museum for Urban and Contemporary Art, Berlin, and Steven P. Harrington / Jaime Rojo ( The book is available for sale at the museum’s gift shop and on view for you to peruse in the reading room.