Alan Fleisher got his start writing graffiti in 1972. At that time, gangs like the Black Spades ruled the Bronx, NY streets and young artists were finding their voice on the city's subway cars. Fleisher took the name Ale One. He bombed the city. Most importantly, he also snapped photographs.
For the past five years, Fleisher has worked alongside Paul Iovino to document first-hand stories from many of his old writing peers. From Taki 183 to Blade to Iz the Wiz, the collected names are a who's who of early NYC graffiti. They are the folks that lived and breathed the art and their adventures form an important chapter in street art history. They are the folks responsible for Classic Hits.
While many books touch on this moment of graffiti's past, Fleisher and Iovino fully flesh out the unique circumstances of the period with previously unpublished photos and oral histories. Many of the writers included have not reached household status, but they were integral to the fostering of graffiti culture and community. The perspective of those that put in the work is at the core, making this one of the most important books on the art to come out in recent years.
Phase 2 provides the forward to Classic Hits. He writes, "We created an art form that came from our supposedly insignificant neighborhood existences and now it's everywhere on earth." He mentions the significance of the stories, the truth of how aerosol art as we understand it started, and the context of its happening.
Ultimately, Classic Hits is about context. It celebrates the actors of a movement and the pioneers of a youth culture phenomenon.
Classic Hits: New York's Pioneering Subway Graffiti Writers, Alan Fliesher and Paul Iovino with introduction by Phase 2, Dokument Press.
Related: 10 Must-Read Graffiti Books.