Martha Cooper

New York / USA

Martha Cooper is a documentary photographer who has specialized in shooting urban vernacular art and architecture for over forty years. In 1977, Martha moved from Rhode Island to New York City and worked as a staff photographer at the NY Post for three years. During that time she began to document graffiti and B-Boying, subjects which led to her extensive coverage of early Hip Hop as it emerged from the Bronx. These photos, published worldwide, helped make Hip Hop the predominant international youth movement it is today. […]

Biography / Martha Cooper

Martha Cooper is a documentary photographer who has specialized in shooting urban vernacular art and architecture for over forty years. In 1977, Martha moved from Rhode Island to New York City and worked as a staff photographer at the NY Post for three years. During that time she began to document graffiti and B-Boying, subjects which led to her extensive coverage of early Hip Hop as it emerged from the Bronx. These photos, published worldwide, helped make Hip Hop the predominant international youth movement it is today.

Her book Subway Art (with Henry Chalfant) has been in print since 1984 and is affectionately called the “bible” by graffiti artists. Her next book, R.I.P.: Memorial Wall Art looks at memorial murals in NYC and Hip Hop Files 1980–1984 contains hundreds of rare, early Hip Hop photos.

We B*Girlz is an intensive look at girls and women who breakdance worldwide, and Street Play and New York State of Mind are her collections of NYC photos from the late ’70s. Tag Town shows the evolution of graffiti style from early tags to complicated pieces. Her books Going Postal and Name Tagging contain of images of graffiti and street art on postal stickers. Remembering 9/11 captures the variety of spontaneous memorials that sprang up in New York after the attack on the World Trade Center. Tokyo Tattoo 1970, published in 2011 by Dokument Press in Sweden, showcases photos she took while living in Japan in the ’70s.

Martha’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide and published in numerous magazines from National Geographic to Vibe. She still lives in Manhattan but travels frequently to urban art festivals around the world. Recently Martha has documented street artists painting in Wynwood, Miami and at the Houston/Bowery Wall in NYC.

She also completed shooting a project comparing SoWeBo, a neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore, to Soweto, South Africa. Her most recent book, One Week with 1UP is a collaboration with Nika Kramer and the notorious graffiti crew in Berlin. A documentary film Martha Cooper: A Picture Story by filmmaker Selina Miles had its premiere at the TriBeCa International Film Festival in 2019 in New York City.

Featured on Urban Nation / Martha Cooper

  • Urban Nation
BE PART OF THE UNIQUE URBAN NATION MARTHA COOPER LIBRARY!
ARTISTS, ART LOVERS AND COLLECTORS – WATCH OUT! Here is our storybook film, real life rendering and first look at the Martha Cooper Library inside the URBAN NATION MUSEUM FOR URBAN CONTEMPORARY ART, that will open in Berlin mid-2017. The
  • Blog
Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures | The Opening
This was the opening weekend of the exhibition “MARTHA COOPER: TAKING PICTURES“: After a month of closure, the museum has been shining in new splendor since last Friday, October 2, 2020. With the exhibition curated by Jaime Rojo and Steven