Is graffiti a legitimate art form or just an urbanscape eyesore? Well, if you listen to the younger critics, coming into prominence now, they vote “art form” . Discounting just plain ol’ tags, of course.
When the graffiti you see is a colorful mural that makes a political statement, social statement, or just a purely aesthetic display, that’s art. What has always been the purpose of art if not one of those 3 criteria? However, due to its’ illegality, maybe we should rename it “Outlaw Art”.
Many high powered critics are just now realizing graffiti is an art form. Every bit as valid as a Picasso sculpture. Imagination, composition and technique are in full display. Plus “Wildstyle”, which incorporates a calligraphic writing style of interlocking letters. The wildstyle part probably originated at the gang tag level, but talent has brought it to the mountaintop.
“Wildstyle” is a fluid interpretation of the alphabet. With its strong use of colors, and true artistic fluency, there is no doubt that it’s elevated to a competition of legitimacy for all to see. Forcing each practitioner to “bring it on” to a higher level. In fact, I would venture to say that true street art forces the issue due to its flamboyant visibility. Mixed with the adrenaline of illegality.
Pulling it into the gallery environment? Does this not negate the ‘graffiti’ aspect and the whole point? Not if money is involved. The wheelers and dealers in the art world require structure and control. At least if they’re going to make a buck.
Banksy is a British graffiti artist to go “legit”. He already had a widespread rep, but now he’s famous. While some veiw this as a bad thing,…let’s be honest. It has opened a lot of doors for what formerly was an “art on the fringe” element. Even celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are purchasing said works at “real art” prices. Nothing to sneeze at. This has put street art smack dab into the homes of all the movers and shakers and other art collectors.
Like all art, style, hipness and popularity are always evolving. What was originally the domain of gangs and those sworn to vandalism has grown to a movement. Even the tools have evolved. Art is always on the move,…never stagnant. And so it is with this new legit form of “Outlaw Art”,…and the loss of the adrenaline high that was associated with it. In exchange for a poo-poo cloistered art world. And when will the photographic community join the fray, now that we have all this digital magic mumbo jumbo? No takers?