XCIA's Street Art Project: The First Four Decades


March 29 – April 12, 2012

Press Release

Before becoming a photographer, Hank O’Neal was an agent with the Domestic Operations Division of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the mid 1970s, encouraged by his friend and mentor the legendary American photographer Berenice Abbott, and inspired by Walker Evans’ Depression-era photos of peeling posters and hand-painted signs, O’Neal left the CIA and devoted himself to documenting the burgeoning street art scene in New York City. Over the next 40 years, he would take thousands of photographs, compiling a legacy of one of the most vital and significant movements in the world of art. XCIA’s STREET ART PROJECT: The First Four Decades (Siman Media Works, 2012) is a meticulously documented, sumptuous celebration of some of the most beautiful, meaningful expressions of street art yet to be collected¾early work of SAMO (Jean-Michel Basquiat’s original street name); Keith Haring’s “Radiant Baby” in the New York City subway; a Banksy mural in a Los Angeles parking lot; Richard Hambleton’s “Shadowmen” of the 1980s; JR’s “Faces with Eye Masks” in 2011; the “Silence=Death” pink triangle posters; and Shepard Fairey’s now-iconic “Hope” portrait of Barack Obama, among many others.