New York 1975 Subway Art

Show Opening: 1st October 2015

It's been a great pleasure to host a show for painter, photographer and friend Keith Baugh.  Keith stepped almost unwittingly into the graffiti scene about 10 years ago when his collection of 35mm colour transparency photographs of 1970’s New York subway graffiti, safely stashed away for three decades, were discovered by graffiti artist legend Tizer.

Contact was made with Sami Montague, editor-in-chief at Graphotism, who encouraged Keith to publish these rare images from the golden era of NY subway art in the book ‘Early New York Subway Graffiti 1973-1975’.

During the exhibition NEW YORK 1975/SUBWAY ART/ COPS&CADILLACS – Keith has showcased paintings, limited edition photographs, and a few signed posters. Keith has been signing copies of his book “Early New York Subway Graffiti 1973-1975”

“When I think back about first meeting Keith Baugh, I still feel the same twinge of the surprise I felt then. I was surprised by two things; firstly that Keith, an English man in New York, had had the amazing insight and awareness to stand on a 1970’s New York elevated subway platform to take photos of what very few others did, and secondly that the photos Keith had of these early subway train graffiti pieces; pieces which I had never ever seen before, really existed and had been preserved over three decades. To someone so deeply immersed in writing, writing history and culture this was, to put it mildly, very exciting. These were amazing photos, and there were lots of them!

Initially Keith was interested in perhaps putting together an article for Graphotism, but it was quickly obvious that what Keith had was much too significant for that, a few photos would have made an article... So, through Keith’s passion and energy his book ‘Early New York Subway Graffiti 1973-1975’ was born, a book which shone a light on this amazing period in writing history, a period of relative naivety and enthusiastic exploration which inspires me more than any other.

When I look at Keith’s vibrant and bright paintings I can feel his enthusiasm and love for the graffiti movement, also his love of Americana, classic American cars and popular culture. The paintings are nostalgic in their content, depicting the pieces he had photographed in imagined real life situations. Telling stories which perhaps never were or maybe were, freezing fantasised images of urban and glossy beauty. The paintings reconceptualise the pieces, bringing them back to life again and giving them the steely energy they once had. They take inspiration from an ephemeral art form based on youth culture, making it fine art, preserved in paint on canvas.

These creative re-imaginings add to the history, further documentation and preservation of subway train pieces which were, by their nature highly temporary, passing the viewer by in seconds and constantly at risk of the buff, saving for posterity a significant and inspiring period in writing history. There is importance in this, because none of these pieces which once ran the subway lines of New York City actually exist anymore and have not done so for decades. In some cases it is most likely that they only exist in the photos Keith took, in memories and in his paintings. There is something quite holistic about them existing again in paint, albeit on another surface and on another scale.
In this series of paintings by Keith Baugh, my eye is drawn to the trains, but there is plenty else to delight the viewer’s eye here too, the cars are shiny and big, just as American classics should be and the urban environment is deep and lush. I hope that you enjoy the paintings as much as I do, for the same reasons and for reasons of your own. I strongly believe that the fact that Keith saw something special about the pieces to begin with, and thought them worthy of photographing for preservation, is amazing.”

– Sami Montague, August 2015
   Editor-in-chief Graphotism magazine

“It was wonderful to see Keith’s photographs from the early years of New York graffiti especially as so much of this work was undocumented. His collection is a treasure trove of images that push the boundaries of what we know about the stylistic development of the letterforms now seen worldwide. Keith’s book of photographs greatly adds to the ever-expanding history of graffiti art."

– Martha Cooper,
   NYC Graffiti photographer

“For me, it was so exciting to see Keith Baugh’s book ‘Early New York Subway Graffiti 1973-1975’. His photographs captured rare lost images of masterpieces by pioneer writers who had been forgotten and overlooked with time. 
It was good to meet up with Keith in Rome in 2014 at the European launch of my book BLADE – KING OF GRAFFITI. The book includes a large selection of his iconic 1970s New York photographs.

It’s now great to see how Keith has imaginatively used these photographs and memories to create this amazing series of new paintings that capture the New York City graffiti explosion of our era.

Both Portia and I love his commissioned ‘Blademobile’ tribute canvas and are proud to have it as part of our collection on display in our Florida home. 
Keith Baugh’s paintings and photographs are real deal nostalgia."

– BLADE, The Crazy 5

"I first met Keith Baugh when I was asked by a close friend to do a week long graffiti course at a visual arts school near Bristol in 2003.

Keith was the head the Head of Art there. I was amazed at the standard of art being produced by the students, ability and finish of their work was so professional.
Instantly I could tell they had inspirational art teachers.
Keith sat in on my first lesson and after explaining who I was and how I first started getting into graffiti at 12 years old, I started talking about the origins of New York/ Philadelphia graffiti. Keith joined in, telling his students about New York’s painted subway trains.... At the end of the class I asked him how he knew so much on the subject.

He told me he had spent a lot of time NYC as a young man taking photos of the painted trains. I then asked him immediately if he still had those images and if I could see them. The next day, he brought them all in, I literally bugged out. I had no idea that he had that many and of such quality, I literally thought he'd have two or three crappy pics. I had no idea he was a professional photographer taking perfect images of the early masters of spray can art. The photos available of this period in New York's train history are very rare. As most artists rarely took photos of their work or if they did they were either taken on cheap cameras, bad film, lost or damaged.

Now, I'm sitting with this guy in a classroom in the middle of the British countryside looking at slide film photos of whole cars, window downs and tags. He had images. I don't say that lightly. He had stuff from before Norman Mailer, Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper. At this point I told him that he had to make a book, as they are so important for social history and American art history. 

I'm so glad he did ... and so is the rest of the world. He published the first edition himself. I always think that it was fate that I was able to meet him that day, see his images and relay to him the importance of them.
Keith is amazing at capturing moments, feelings, and eras. You can see this in his incredible paintings and photos.
Keith is a dude. Buy his work."

– Tizer One ID