Charlie Ahearn

Collaborated Project:

City As Studio | Exhibition

Charlie Ahearn (b. 1951, Binghamton, New York, U.S.) is one of the most important chroniclers and historians of Wild Style graffiti and its extension into dance, music and other creative fields. His seminal film Wild Style (1982) not only captured the graffiti community at its height, but helped to spread its message around the world.

Ahearn’s first important artistic project was the Super 8 kung fu movie Deadly Art of Survival, filmed in the Lower East Side in 1978. Ahearn, his twin brother John, and other members of the artist/activist collective Colab, were the organizers of the legendary Times Square Show in 1980.

Ahearn co-authored and contributed his photographs to Yes Yes Y'all (2001), a history of the first decade of hip hop. His recent silkscreen painting series depicting hip hop culture's germinal years was shown at P.P.O.W Gallery in New York in 2017. His films have been shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Tate, among other major museums.

Charlie Ahearn directing basketball scene for Wild Style, 1981. Photo © Cathy Campbell. Courtesy of Charlie Ahearn.