February 04, 2021

This Collection of Unique Works by 151 Los Angeles Graffiti Artists Represents an Unprecedented Collaboration Across the City’s Diverse Artistic Landscape

This Collection of Unique Works by 151 Los Angeles Graffiti Artists Represents an Unprecedented Collaboration Across the City’s Diverse Artistic Landscape

LOS ANGELES, CA — Many graffiti artists carry blank sketchbooks, called black books or piece books, and they ask friends, crew members, and others they admire to embellish a page with lettering or drawing. In seventeenth-century Europe, students passed around elaborate autograph books, known as liber amicorum (Latin for “book of friends”) to be inscribed and decorated with calligraphy, mottoes, and coats of arms.

These similar traditions intersected at the Getty Research Institute, where groups of graffiti artists met to look at rare books, such as a woodcut by Leonardo da Vinci,  Wenzel Jamnitzer’s Perspective of Regular Bodies, examples of Arabic calligraphy, as well as a liber amicorum, and began to discuss the idea of a citywide Los Angeles black book. Angst, one of artists who participated in the original meeting, notes in the book, “I related to these rare books as one who recognizes a colleague in arms. Had I been born in an earlier age, I would have been a scribe.”

These artists became creators and curators, crafting artworks and inviting others to participate. Eventually, 151 artists contributed 143 original works on paper to a multivoice “master-piece” artists’ book, called LA Liber Amicorum, more popularly known as the Getty Black Book.

L.A. Graffiti Black Book (Getty Publications, $35) reproduces, for the first time, all of the artworks in LA Liber Amicorum, and commemorates a moment when leading local artists came together to create a L.A. book of friends.

“Hiding in plain sight, graffiti is art history in the making. Its ciphered self-portraits—biography expressed with personal devices and animated objects—compose a recognizable and stylish language to be interpreted among insiders, practitioners who cite one another. Often a moniker is hard to read and difficult to appreciate unless you’re one of the cognoscenti. But this is like all art. Aliens will not know how to interpret The Last Supper, ” writes Marcia Reed, associate director of the Getty Research Institute, in the preface.



David Brafman is associate curator of rare books at the Getty Research Institute.



Acme, Adict One, AiseBorn, Angst, Arbe, Asylm, Augor, Axis, Bash, Betoe, Big Sleeps, Blosm and Petal, Bob Roberts (Bad Bob the Worst), Cab, Cache, Cale One, Care, Charlie Roberts, Chaz, Chris, Chubbs, Crae & K4P Crew, Craola, Craze, Cre8, Crime (Rick One), Cryptik, Czer One, Defer, Demer One, Design9, Dr. Eye, Duem and Crae, Dye5, Earn One, Eder, Elika, Else, Enk One, ESK31, Estevan Oriol, EyeOne, Fearo, Fishe , Gabe88, Gasoline, Gkae, Graff One, Green, Gorgs, Haste, Heaven, Hex (LOD), Hex (TGO), Hyde, Jack, Jack Rudy (Mr. Huero), Jake One, Jero and Each (front, back), Joker One, Junior ("Kost One"), K4P (Pranxs, Method, Biser, Crae, Dsrup), K4P (Chelo, Noek, Notik), Kaos, Kasl, Keo One and Wram One, Kofie, Kopyeson, Kozem, Krenz (Yem), Krush, Kwite One, Kyle Kyote, Ler Keen, Look, Mach Five, Mandoe, Man One, Mark7, Mike Miller, Miner, Mister Cartoon, NicNak, OG Abel, Owen, Panic One, Patrick Martinez, P.Chuck, The Phantom, Phever, P. Jay One, Playboy Eddie, Plek One, Pletk P17, Precise, Prime, Punk, Push, Pyre One, Pyro, Rayo, Relic, Relm, Retna, Rev, Rich One, Rick Ordoñez, Risk, Rival, Roder 169, Saber, Sacred 194, Sel, Ser, Shandu One, Sherm, Siner, Skan One, Skez, Skill, Slick, SomeOne, Soon One, Spade, Spurn, Swank, Syte One, Teler, Tempt, Test, Thanks One, Thel, Trigz, Tyke Witnes, Useck, Versus 269, Vox One, Vyal, Werc, Wise, Wisk, Woier, Zes



L..A. Graffiti Black Book
David Brafman
Getty Research Institute

176 pages, 10 x 8 inches, hardcover

168 color illustrations

ISBN 978-1-60606-698-0

US $35.00, UK £27.00


PUBLICATION DATE: April 13, 2021



Sydney Lopez, Getty Publications


About Getty Publications

Getty Publications produces award-winning titles that result from or complement the work of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Conservation Institute, and Getty Research Institute. This wide variety of books covers the fields of art, photography, archaeology, architecture, conservation, and the humanities for both the general public and specialists. Publications include illustrated works on artists and art history, exhibition catalogues, works on cultural history, research on the conservation of materials and archaeological sites, scholarly monographs, critical editions of translated works, comprehensive studies of Getty’s collections, and educational books on art to interest children of all ages.

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