The art outside galleries tend to be done by unpaid artists. Not only are they unpaid but more often than not they have bigger meaning than the artwork in the gallery. Street artists use unlikely canvases because it’s a way to pay attention to bigger problems or a way to be more expressive then what galleries will allow. Street art is regarded as one of the largest art movements that has achieved huge popularity and is still rapidly growing as an art form. Street artworks mainly appear in urban areas like walls of buildings, highway overpasses, bridges and in underground areas. The art defines the outlook of many neighborhoods and cities all around the world. Since the beginning of time itself people have been adding color to natural surfaces, like cave walls during the era of cave art, or man made surfaces, much like the modern building walls of New York or other big cities.
The earliest form of art making Paleolithic Art or Cave Art can technically be considered the first form of street art. The painting found on the walls didn’t display political messages but it does give us a way to try and figure out how prehistoric people would live their lives back then. The art style of most cave art is being interpreted differently by archaeologists, historians and scholars alike because of the abstract nature of the paintings. The importance of prehistoric art is just as important as modern art: it tells a story and keeps history alive through the years with how much information is given in the simple pictures with no words.
The idea of painting on property not owned by a person is rebellious and illegal. The art form tends to convey social or political messages that provoke people to discuss and react to the pieces. Street art is connected to creating awareness about social and environmental issues.
Before reaching international fame Banksy, an enigmatic English-based street artist uses stencil to spread his messages of dissatisfaction with certain aspects of society, certain political situations or even certain decisions taken by world leaders. Banksy was expelled from school at the age of 14 and served time in prison for petty crimes. When he was 18 Banksy was painting on a train car with his fellow gang members and a police car showed up. His friends disappeared so he hid from police under a dumber truck with oil leaking on him. Some of his earliest art produced more conversations than the likes of Pablo Picasso. Banksy’s Girl with Balloon had the inscription “there is always hope” next to it. Girl with Balloon depicts a young girl in a black dress releasing a red heart shaped balloon. The painting was originally done in 2002 on a wall in London. In 2018 the painting was redone on canvas and sold in an auction. After the hammer was dropped the cavas started to be shredded by a hidden shredder in the frame. The way of destroying his own work was a way to represent the greed in the art world and anti-capitalism.
Keith Haring artwork is now a fairly common sight being iconic for its bold line and its bright colors. His original canvas was not that of walls or canvas but chalkboards in subway trains and stations. Haring had been arrested multiple times on charges of vandalism. In 1980s New York, Haring’s art was a code to common social issues in the world then. He uses dogs to represent and stand in for big powers and the oppressive nature of the world. What was originally a spacing accident became a symbol for greed with his three eyed smiley face. Haring uses pyramids to represent the past and other worldly elements, like UFOs, to give distance to the pieces. His most famous symbols are anamorphic, non gendered human figures colored with bright colors. The figures normally are embracing or interacting with each other. The human-like forms represent human love and embrace the importance of advocating for safe sex and AIDS awareness. Haring was openly gay and represented the hardships of the LGBTQ community in his art works. He used slogans that were quick and easy to understand to spread messages about the dangers and negative effects of drugs.
William Najger aka Will Love Strong is a current day street artist and is not known to many people. He is the founder of the Love Strong USA Campaign. He is on the journey to spread the message of Love, Unity and Peace throughout the United States. He does this by making signs in bright colors that have positive messages using old wooden boards. He posts signs on telephone poles, front yards, community spaces, store windows, and fences. A difference between Najger and common street artists is that he gains permission on being able to post his signs. Even if they are only temporary and able to be removed, his signs still spread the positive and powerful messages that other artists are trying to spread. His idea is that love is more important than ever before with everything going on in the world. He documents his journey on his YouTube channel Will Love Strong.
The most important message behind art is being able to bring change. With more critics looking for art to just be pretty, mainstream art is losing what really matters: it is locked behind tickets and pricewalls, much like the advanced weapons that are in video games. Most of the artists in the streets are not being paid and are doing art to get their message across to their message out into the world in a way that everyone can see. The lack of a pay wall frees the artist and the piece can be seen and gain attention. There is no lack of the ability to share pictures online which helps the message spread as far as online media can take it. Everyone knows that today’s media is limitless in it’s reach that spreads messages of art.
Auriemma, R. (2019, June 19). Banksy: the best paintings and the meaning of his art. Auralcrave. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from https://auralcrave.com/en/2019/06/19/banksy-the-best-paintings-and-the-meaning-of-his-art/
Five Things to Know: Keith Haring. (n.d.). Tate. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/g/graffiti-art/five-things-know-keith-haring
Hencz, A. (n.d.). What is Street Art? History & Famous Artists. Artland Magazine. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from https://magazine.artland.com/street-art/
Picasso, P. (2022, March 17). Cave Art Movement Overview | TheArtStory. The Art Story. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from https://www.theartstory.org/movement/cave-art/
“The Art I Painted ON the Gallery is Better than the Art INSIDE the Gallery”
You’ve done a fair job of explaining certain aspects of graffiti and street art in your Definition argument, SortableElms, but you haven’t yet begun to explain WHY it exists or HOW it came to be. For starters, I don’t imaging there was much of the stuff before talented people could consider making a living being artists. Until the 20th century, I’d say, paintings and sculptures were commissioned or they didn’t exist at all. The church hired artists to decorate their buildings; royalty needed heroic portraits, the very rich could afford interior decor, but very few artists made a living doing paintings on speculation for showing in galleries. Right? So, is it right to speculate that graffiti and street art became a way for frustrated artists to be SEEN when their work was neglected by the art establishment? Or are there other reasons to spray paint your work outdoors? To reach a more democratic audience? To deliberately reject the academy? Does street art give an artist a chance to explore blunt political speech that no gallery would want to sanction? Is street art more reckless, offensive, brash, than what gallery owners would display? And what about the themes, techniques, materials? Are the designs cartoonish, simple, garish, heavily-outlined for a REASON? I imagine one explanation, if you’re painting on a building without permission, is that you don’t have time to waste before the cops arrive to arrest you. Did the trend GROW following the early success of anyone in particular? The three artists you name in your DefArg are pretty contemporary. Who were their influences? Did they FOLLOW the practice of tagging? or develop alongside it? Did one or more of them start out just tagging and then develop some shorthand symbols that became a more complex iconography? Do these questions give you a good idea what readers might want to know about the CAUSES for street art?