GRAFFTI & STREET ART
By malinm on April 6, 2018
Street art is visual art created in public locations, usually unsanctioned artwork executed outside of the context of traditional art venues. The term “graffiti” often refers to guerrilla artwork on inner city walls and train lines, a movement popularized in the late 60s and 70s. One of the earliest forms of graffiti was “tagging,” or the use of elaborate typography to encode the painter’s name on the sides of buildings or subway cars. Artists got extra points for tagging inaccessible locations, often at great heights, and taggers competed to make their mark better than their competitors. This insular group determined skill by evaluating control of the spray paint and developing their unique typographical marks.
From the beginning, this art form was meant to be transgressive: in a world dominated by global branding, graffiti alienated the power of commercialism and government infrastructure. Street art was often viewed negatively by politicians and more affluent communities because it was associated with gang culture, but the artwork served as a way for disenfranchised groups of citizens to express their dissatisfaction with society.
Street art was also closely tied to hip hop culture. As such, many of the artists began working in New York, but the medium rapidly expanded to urban centers across the United States.
Street art is a form of artwork that is displayed in a community on its surrounding buildings, streets, and other publicly viewed surfaces. Many instances come in the form of guerrilla art, which is composed to make a public statement about the society that the artist lives within. The work has moved from the beginnings of graffiti and vandalism to new modes where artists work to bring messages, or just simple beauty, to an audience.
Some artists use “smart vandalism” as a way to raise awareness of social and political issues. Others simply see urban space as an untapped format for personal artwork, while others may appreciate the challenges and risks that are associated with installing illicit artwork in public places. A common motive is that creating art in a format which utilizes public space allows artists who may otherwise feel disenfranchised to reach a much broader audience than other styles or galleries would allow.
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The featured image is from Flickr by Mike Dixson, and it is an image with no copyright.
Keith Haring: image borrowed from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Haring
Shepard Fairey: image borrowed from https://www.widewalls.ch/artist/shepard-fairey/