|Known Names||Urban Art
(Top Image: “City Scrim A” by GI Artlabs)
The Graffiti Art movement, seen by some as vandalism and a symbol of urban decay, is now much more than just a method of self-expression by spraying a name on subway cars, city walls and as many surfaces as possible. It is art.
Modern graffiti as we know it today originated in Philadelphia in the early sixties, where artists such as Cool Earl and Cornbread made their marks by writing their names over the blank surfaces of the city walls. Cornbread was also well known for marking an elephant at the Philadelphia Zoo and a TWA jet with his famous writings. By the late sixties, the movement began to thrive in New York City, so much so that it drew the interest of the New York Times, which ran a small profile of a local artist named TAKI 183. Along with other artists including JOE 182 and Julio 204, TAKI 183 used spray paint and magic markers to cover as many surfaces in the city as possible with works of art and bold bubble-letter words. TAKI 183 worked as a messenger in New York City, and during the day, he would mark the places he had been with his name. He became known all across the city as this mysterious artist who gained fame and notoriety through vandalism. Kids in all neighborhoods began to imitate TAKI, and this art movement flourished. Unlike other forms of art, graffiti art is often done illegally, which makes it highly misunderstood. Artists usually keep their real names and identities a secret. In the early seventies, style wars occurred, as artists tried making their designs more elaborate and detailed in order to gain notoriety. Artists often enlisted the help of crews, who would often travel together to collaborate on large pieces and to watch out for authorities. Many people believe this form of art is the work of gangs, but the majority is not. This form of contemporary art is based on skill, and the artists tend to be young teenagers. With increased security, it has become harder for artists to mark subways and buildings, but it is not uncommon to see graffiti designs on common objects such as T-shirts, posters, and even CD covers.
- Flower Girl, by Banksy, 2002
- Irena, by Swoon, 2007
- Statue of Liberty, by Tracy 168, 1986
- Welcome to Heaven, by Lady Pink, 1982
- Sweet Dreams, prints by Blek le Rat, 2013
- Ancient graffiti dates back to the early Roman Empire where inscriptions were scratched into wall plaster.
- Between 1970 and 1995, the Metropolitan Transit Authorities in New York spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to remove this art form from its network.
- The original goal of an artist was to put your name up in as many places as possible, and they competed against one another to become famous.