Starting out as a sculptor in New York in the 1970s, Chalfant turned to photography and film to do an in-depth study of hip-hop culture and graffiti art. One of the foremost authorities on New York subway art, and other aspects of urban youth culture, his photographs record hundreds of ephemeral, original art works that have long since vanished.
His photographs were included in the exhibitions City as Canvas: Graffiti Art From the Martin Wong Collection at the Museum of the City of New York, Art in the Streets at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and New York-New Wave at P.S. 1, in addition to galleries and museum in the United States and Europe. He has co-authored the definitive account of New York graffiti art, Subway Art (Holt Rinehart Winston, N.Y. 1984) and a sequel on the art form’s world-wide diffusion, Spray Can Art (Thames and Hudson Inc. London, 1987).
Chalfant co-produced the PBS documentary, Style Wars, the definitive documentary about Graffiti and Hip Hop culture and directed Flyin’ Cut Sleeves, a documentary on South Bronx gangs, in 1993. He produced and directed Visit Palestine: Ten Days on the West Bank in 2002. His film From Mambo to Hip Hop was featured in the Latino Public Broadcasting series, Voces in 2006-2007, and won an Alma Award for Best Documentary.
Chalfant is a resident of New York City. He continues to make documentary films about urban popular culture.
Henry Chalfant- Steven Kasher Gallery, New York
City as Canvas: Graffiti Art From the Martin Wong Collection- Museum of the City of New York
Art in the Streets- Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles
Whole in the Wall, Helenbeck Gallery, New York
Born in the Streets, Cartier Foundation, Paris
Hip Hop exhibit, The Experience Music Project Museum, Seattle, WA
Urban Mythologies, The Bronx Museum, New York
Art of the American Century Part ll, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Hip Hop: A Cultural Expression, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio
Since the Harlem Renaissance, 50 Years of Afro-American Art, Bucknell University
Content, a Contemporary Focus 1974-1984, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
The Comic Art Show, Whitney Downtown, New York
Elaine Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, New York
Sculptors Guild, Bronx Botanical Gardens, New York
New York/New Wave, P.S.1, New York
55 Mercer Gallery, New York
O.I.A. Battery Park, New York
Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Sculptors Guild, Lever House, New York
14 Sculptors Gallery, New York
A-Dieci Gallery, Padua, Italy
Cooper, Martha, and Henry Chalfant. Subway Art: 25th Anniversary Edition. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle, 2009
Chalfant, Henry and James Prigoff. Spray Can Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 1987
Cooper, Martha and Henry Chalfant. Subway Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 1984