Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I didn't study this in my art history courses

When I was in Europe last fall, soaking in all of the architecture, (sanctioned) public art installations, and fine art in the museums, the question I was most interested in investigating was when and how did street art, as we know it, develop?.  It's not that I wasn't in awe of the traditional art.  Of course I was, but what can I say?  I'm a fan of subversion.  And beautifying our neighborhoods.  Because they are our neighborhoods, after all.  I suppose I should research the "artivism" sub-category from the diagram above, because street art that makes a statement, be it aesthetic or political, is my favorite.  I admire the combination of creativity, cleverness, and conviction.   

Many moons ago, I watched Style Wars (which is kickass, btw), but like the amnesiac I am, I don't remember many of the details (luckily, the entire documentary is streaming on YouTube).  New York.  Subways.  Train yards.  Cans of spray paint.  That's pretty much the extent of my knowledge on the origins of street art, specifically graffiti.  So, I went where all deeply serious academics go to conduct thorough and reliable research: Wikipedia.  I now know precious little more than previously noted above.  (Did you know cave paintings that date back to 30,000 BCE, can be classified as graffiti?  I did not.  I always thought of cave people as rule followers.)  As you can imagine, though, it is difficult to determine precise origins for such a dynamic movement.  And being such a recent (comparatively speaking) branch of visual arts, I didn't expect to find oodles of definitive texts on the topic. 

But, I shall not be deterred!  I plan to watch Style Wars again.  Then, I'll read Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution, Graffiti World: Street Art from Five Continents, and Graffiti Women: Street Art from Five Continents.  You better believe all this research totally counts as one, if not two (or three!), of the tasks on GOOD's 30-day Challenge checklist.     

Would you like to see some of my favorite 
street art works from my recent trip to Europe?

diagram source       

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