The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this essay, Hugo Martinez chronicles the formation of United Graffiti Artists, a collective of New York City graffiti artists. Analyzing the graffiti scene from a sociological perspective, Martinez reports that the majority of graffiti artists in that city were Puerto Rican and African American adolescents from working class backgrounds. Although not trained as an artist, Martinez saw artistic potential in graffiti and writes that he saw the need to establish graffiti as a vanguard art movement, thus preserving the work on legitimate surfaces. To that end, he began inviting artists to use art studios at City College and transfer their designs to canvas. In 1972, the gatherings at City College evolved into the collective, United Graffiti Artists. Martinez, who wrote the essay to commemorate the first formal exhibition of graffiti art on canvas at Artist Space, in 1975, concludes by stating that the power of the works on display can speak for itself.
Hugo Martinez wrote “A Brief Background on Graffiti” to commemorate the first formal exhibition of the United Graffiti Artists at Artist Space, a well regarded gallery in New York City. The event is considered a milestone in the history of the graffiti art movement in the city. Hugo Martinez continues to organize shows of graffiti art in New York.