Books in the MCL: Golden Boy as Anthony Cool. Herbert Kohl und James Hinton

Herbert Kohl and James Hinton, Golden Boy as Anthony Cool. 1972

Herbert Kohl and James Hinton’s “Golden Boy as Anthony Cool,” published in 1972, is a seminal work in the study of urban graffiti and street culture. Not only an academic exploration; it’s a journey into the heart of graffiti as a form of personal expression, rebellion, and cultural identity. Kohl’s insightful essays paired with Hinton’s evocative photographs provide a window into the lives of young people in the urban landscapes of New York City and Los Angeles as they simultaneously boil, wane and flourish in the late 60s and early 70s. These vibrant and vibrating communities are chronicled, whether affluent suburbs or struggling neighborhoods, each appears to brim with stories cryptically told through tags and murals on walls and doors.

As a crucial part of street art history, “Golden Boy as Anthony Cool” is an essential resource for anyone interested in the roots of modern graffiti culture. Its compelling blend of vivid imagery and profound analysis not only makes it an invaluable addition to any collector’s library but also a portal to the dynamic world of urban street art. Simple and unassuming, the book is testament to graffiti’s evolution, offering a deeper appreciation for the art form and the voices that shape it.

The book is about understanding and embracing the creative spirit, the boundless energy, and intense desire that reside within young people. This book delves into the rites and cultures, the clues, scraps, and words that, when pieced together, narrate the story of the authors, the writers, the artists, and the revolutionaries. Here we recognize that some individuals express through graffiti what they cannot vocalize openly in the presence of others, using anonymity and walls as their canvas to convey their deepest thoughts and feelings.

Golden Boy as Anthony Cool” stands as a pioneering work in the study of text-based graffiti, predating its recognition as a legitimate art form. This early, in-depth study documents the nascent practices of naming and tagging, reframing graffiti as a nuanced and expressive street language rather than mere vandalism. The book uncovers the layered meanings in urban graffiti, from declarations of love and loyalty to acts of resistance.

More than just a compilation of photographs and essays, this book serves as a guide to understanding the urban landscape from the perspective of its most vocal inhabitants. It explores the significance of street names, the social and political messages in graffiti, and provides insights into the communities and individuals behind these markings. Kohl and Hinton capture a pivotal moment in cultural history, showcasing graffiti as an emerging medium of self-expression and social commentary.

Text Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo      Fotos Sebastian Kläbsch