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Lecture 3: Graffiti & Street Art

Graffiti derived from the Italian word ‘Graphito’ which means images that have been scratched into a stone surface and often, natural pigments are also used to add colour

Early Graphito style work dates back to caves paintings, which were used by communities to tell stories of everyday life

These first acts of ‘graphito’ were not acts of rebellion like we associate with the term graffiti today

Graffiti has also be found in ancient Rome, during the destruction of the city of Pompeii, more vandal like graffiti has been found on the destroyed walls of the city, similar to anti political message seen in graffiti today

‘Kilroy’ was a caricature based pieced of graffiti that first appeared during WWII, it was not authored by any singular person and has been slightly modified by the individuals who have used it, the graffiti was used to create humour around a time of mass food shortage, the comic value is created by the place in which the graffiti appears rather than the actual caricature of Kilroy

Paris, May ’68 Riots – The largest general strike ever in history and mass rioting across France, lasted for two weeks and almost a near collapse of the current government at the time. DIY posters were created to advertise riots and Raleigh’s, the designs used symbolised the coming together of the common working man and making a stand – giving power back to the people

Urban Graffiti, 1970’s New York, developed along side the evolution of hip hop, the graffiti was mostly seen painted on rail carriages which allowed people’s voices and messages to spread and move across the city

Graffiti in New York was used to represent an unrepresented group of people who’s voices went unheard

Hip Hop was a direct contrast to the commercial Disco culture prevalent at the time

For the groups of people in New York who felt invisible, graffiti allowed them to say who they are and carry the message ‘i will not be ignored’

Jon Naar, a photographer a 1970’s graffiti art was sympathetic to this growing art form

Graffiti was used as a moving message across the city, a message from lower class being seen by higher class society

Jean Michael Basquiat, creator of SAMO - a cartoon like character created by him and his friends, the name is derived from the saying ‘Same Old Shit’

The statement being made by the character is one that conveys a sense of how life is confusing, the characters also had political connotations

The copyright logo/symbol also appeared next to the character which was used in an ironic manner to bridge the gap between graffiti and art which would be copyrighted

Form 1979 ‘SAMO is dead’ began to appear around areas of New York, Basquiat ended his own creation, moved towards creating artwork which graffiti influences

He became a figure of popular culture, he constantly appeared on media broadcasts, newspapers and magazines and was associated with the celebrities of the time, he was seen as the wild child of the New York art scene

Basquiat also collaborated with Andy Warhol on a selection of works, he later died of a heroin overdose

Keith Haring, Artist and social activist - known for his most famous work the ‘Radiant Baby’. His style uses thick black outlines with bright vivid colour, he also worked onto found objects and materials and places

He was renowned for travelling all over the world to create murals in the worlds most popular cities

Many believed his commercial success took away the social message from his work

He created ‘PopShop’ which sold t-shirts, toys and posters, this shop soon became a celebrity ‘hang out’, Haring became criticised for his commercial success and for his ability to use his work to make money, although Haring always defended his work with a social activist context

John Feckner, 1980’s - he created large text stencilling onto walls of buildings, his work ‘Broken Promises’ focuses on the waste and lack of housing within communities

Jenny Holzer, Neon and digital display artist - he work often tells us something we already know, but the location in which we see it makes us questions it’s truth, the meaning behind her work is not always immediately apparent

1990’s Graffiti - Graffiti began to be used in the commercial world this had a devaluing affect on graffiti as a form of art and expression

Graffiti also began to appear in video games such as ‘Jet Set Radio’, tagging in ‘Grand Theft Auto’ graffiti culture began appearing in these games

Invader, born 1969 - created a form of more permeant graffiti using mosaic tiles, his work was about the location in which it appear rather than the work it’s self

Pixel tiling mosaics began a popular style and spread over 22 countries worldwide

Banksy - ‘Kate Moss’ an example of street art appearing in a gallery, a completely different experience to viewing it in the street

Shepherd Fairy, creator of the famous ‘Obama Hope’ campaign image, this was an attempt by Obama’s campaign to relate and appeal to a younger audience and those involved in street culture

Street Artists around the world - Morro Da Providencia, pasted large images of women’s face across a favela landscape to highlight the idea of women being a unheard voice of the Favela

Blu + OS Gemeos - they incorporate elements of the building they work onto into there work, creating 3D street art, the building become part of the art

123 Klan - they used graffiti to produce a clothing line which in turn allowed them to fund and continue there graffiti practice

Paul Curtis - Reverse graffiti in which a stencil and water are used to wash away the grime from walls to create the street art, Curtis is creating an environmental message, and taking an environmental approach to the creation of his work (his work takes away the grime and dirt of industry) However this is no permanence to his work, it has a short life span in which it can be viewed

Alexande Farto - Sculptural approach to graffiti art, he chips away at the exterior plaster of buildings and walls to create image, creating 3D works

DIVA a female street artist from Brooklyn, creates a more feminine style within her work but her work also demonstrates how graffiti artists do not and are not always identified and therefore can become genderless

Fafi street artist of france, creates manga style over sexualised portraits

Graffiti then also began to be taken on by those who have been trained in art and design disciplines

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