A Brief History of Graffiti
BBC has recently broadcasted A Brief History of Graffiti, a new documentary about... graffiti. We suggest you to see it - BBC keeps its good reputation -, even if we not love the idea to call "graffiti" every kind of popular writing on the wall. Prehistoric graffiti, the NYC name writing of the 1970s and the street art of the 2000s have something in common, but this recurent parallel prevents from a clear understanding of urban art of the last four decades. Imagine to live in a world where Van Gogh or Gerhard Richter are always compared with painters from Ancient Greece or the Ecce Homo from Borja. Don't you find it weird?
In A Brief History of Graffiti - part of BBC’s pop art season - Richard Clay guides us through cave art, revolutionary posters and contemporary street art, to unravel the enigma of graffiti. Is there a connection between the Latin jokes carved into Rome’s catacombs and the spray-painted ‘pieces’ of the New York subway? Professor Richard Clay believes there is: it’s the story of our primal urge to make marks - and of ordinary people doing so when denied all other means of expression. It’s how the prisoner marks days on the wall of a cell and the schoolboy his name on a desk.
Graffiti and street art was reinvented with the advent of the spray can in 1949, first in Philadelphia and then spreading rapidly through the boroughs of New York City. Lee Quinones was one of the young men who made a name for himself as a graffiti king. Along with Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, who went on to be leading lights in the world of pop art, he was taken from the street into the art gallery by Jeffery Deitch.
Until recently Director of the Los Angeles Museum Of Contemporary Art, Deitch tells Richard how in the subways of New York he came across the late 70s street art that went on to generate some of Pop Art’s most successful works: "The art that emerges on the streets is absolutely real art, and the best of it is as good as the contemporary art that begins in the galleries."
- a brief history of graffiti
- urban art
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