Books in the MCL: City of Kings: A History of NYC Graffiti. 1967-Today. NYCity of Kings.Conceived and curated by Al Díaz (BOMB1, SAMO©…) with Eric (DEAL CIA)

Felisbret and Mariah FoxAl Diaz, Eric Felisbret, and Mariah Fox. City of Kings: A History of NYC Graffiti. Second Edition 2022

“City of Kings: A History of NYC Graffiti” is a crafted exploration of the graffiti scene’s historical roots in New York City. Born from a prominent exhibition co-curated by Al Diaz, Eric Felisbret, and Mariah Fox, this book transcends the role of a mere catalog to become a substantive text that presents a detailed overview of the graffiti movement in a structured, academic, and engaging manner.
Al Diaz, an original New York graffiti writer and a member of the influential SAMO© duo with Basquiat, not only shares his own contributions but also illuminates the collaborative history of the movement. He eloquently describes the perseverance of graffiti artists, painting a vivid picture of their dedication.

The book is organized into well-defined chapters, tracing the evolution of graffiti from “Genesis (1967-1971) The Wall Era” to “Eternal (1989-Present) The Fields Blur.” This chronological approach provides a comprehensive account of the graffiti scene’s development within the context of changing socio-economic and cultural landscapes. The authors employ a research-based methodology, a substantial knowledge base, and first-person narratives to emphasize key milestones and transitions.
Eric Felisbret, known for his graffiti artistry as DEAL CIA and his co-authored book “Graffiti New York,” contributes valuable scholarly insights and archival expertise. His presence lends credibility to the book’s factual accuracy and historical depth.

Mariah Fox, an educator and curator, adds an academic rigor to the presentation while paying respectful homage to graffiti culture and its contributors. Her background in graphic design and illustration, coupled with a scholarly understanding of graffiti, results in an educational and visually coherent storytelling style. Fox ensures that the material is curated inclusively and accessibly, serving as a valuable resource for educators and students.
The book features diverse voices from the graffiti community, including pioneers and critics, offering many perspectives on graffiti culture, its codes, influence, and evolution. These insights, shared by practitioners and observers deeply immersed in the scene, provide readers with a clear and unobstructed view of many complexities and debates within the graffiti narrative.

“City of Kings” surpasses the role of an exhibition catalog to become an essential text for educators, historians, and enthusiasts. It offers a reliable, well-rounded, and authentic resource for comprehending the rich and intricate history of graffiti in New York City. Through their unique perspectives as practitioners, scholars, and curators, the authors present an educational account of graffiti’s history while respecting its roots and legacy.

Text Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo Fotos Sebastian Kläbsch