The Fire Down Below; In Praise of Graffiti

I think it’s accurate to state that Richard Goldstein’s coverage—and unwavering support—of NYC graffiti represents the most important writing on the subject. Goldstein recognized from the very beginning that graffiti was extraordinary and exceptional. He confirmed his position as the leading defender of the art form when he penned the cover story “This Thing Has Gotten Completely Out of Hand” for New York Magazine (March 26, 1973).

Seven years later, as editor of the Village Voice, Goldstein invited a number of graffiti writers to the Voice offices for a Q&A and photo session. The result was this cover story, “The Fire Down Below; In Praise of Graffiti”; THE VILLAGE VOICE, December 24, 1980.

When Marc Edmonds (“ALI”) created the Soul Artists (2.0 version, the “aboveground” version) in 1978, he helped make graff writers accessible to outsiders.The Soul Artists (Ali, Futura, Stan 153, Noc, Crunch, etc.) began garnering press attention in small downtown papers like The Soho News. Monday night meetings at the Soul Artist’s Columbus Avenue workshop provided journalists with an opportunity to actually meet, face to face, many of the elusive graffiti writers of the time. 

The result was a number of supportive articles in various papers during this period, but this particular article was by far the big standout. Not only did the Village Voice commit the front page of their Christmas issue to the movement, but Goldstein restated his glowing appreciation for the much-maligned art form.

“The Fire Down Below; In Praise of Graffiti” by Richard Goldstein.
Village Voice, December 24, 1980

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