November 7, 2021
Paint Louis, an annual global community event, recently took place along the sea walls of downtown St. Louis. It brought together graffiti artists and street artists from all over the world to paint, breakdance, and do hip hop and rap. There were also great DJs.
I had the chance to see the Wynwood Walls, which is the story of change through the passion, art and community created by Tony Goldman in Miami, in the Wynwood neighborhood of Florida. In just 10 years, Wynwood Walls has grown into a phenomenon in its own right, known as a milestone in artists’ careers, with an ability to catapult strangers and veterans alike. Under the leadership of CEO Jessica Goldman Srebnick, Wynwood Walls has become one of the world’s most prominent street art destinations, welcoming more than three million visitors a year.
So what is it and what is the history and significance of street art? According to a combination of several definitions and sources, street art has emerged from urban spaces and now lives in the cultural spaces of virtual communities, galleries, public spaces and public discourse. It has become an object of appropriation by pop culture and the dominant symbolism of the contemporary art scene around the world. The Oxford Dictionary defines street art as “a work of art created in a public space, usually without official permission”.
A central aspect of street art is its ephemeral. An unauthorized public work runs the risk of being removed by the authorities or other artists. No one can see it or buy it. In many cases, street art can be seen as a tool to promote an artist’s personal agenda regarding social issues.
Street art is often found on bridges, buildings, sidewalks, walls, doors, etc., to be seen by a large part of the population.
The boundaries between street art, fine art and collectible art are starting to become very blurry. Bansky, the pseudonymous England-based street artist, political activist and director whose real name and identity are unconfirmed, says: “Street Art is meant to be the pinnacle of democratized art: seen by everyone. world, belonging to no one. That hasn’t stopped celebrities like Justin Bieber, Serena Williams and Angelina Jolie from acquiring the elusive artist’s work.
Artist of the 1980s, the late Jean-Michel Basquiat illustrates all this confusing mixture where street art ends and leaps into galleries and museums. Basquiat first rose to prominence as a member of SAMO, a graffiti duo who wrote cryptic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the late 1970s, where rap, punk and street art merged into hip-hop musical culture.
In the early 1980s, his paintings were exhibited in galleries and museums around the world.
Basquiat’s art focused on dichotomies such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner experience versus outer experience. He appropriates poetry, drawing and painting, and combines text and image, abstraction, figuration and historical information mixed with contemporary criticism. He used social commentary in his paintings as a tool for introspection and identification with his experiences in the black community of his time, as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism. His visual poetics were intensely political and straightforward in their critique of colonialism and their support for the class struggle.
Anne Pasternak, Director of the Brooklyn Museum, said: “The Brooklyn Museum is proud to present the first museum exhibit in New York dedicated to the career of longtime Brooklyn resident artist KAWS (Brian Donnelly). Renowned for his exuberant and meticulously crafted paintings and sculptures in vibrant and vibrant colors. KAW’s work connects the worlds of art and popular culture in a way that no other artist since Andy Warhol has achieved.
KAWS started out as a graffiti artist in Jersey City. The streets were his studio and exhibition space, with ambitious public sculptures and an augmented reality app. His works have been seen on Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Mount Fuji, and soon at Rockefeller Center.
KAWS always offers ideas on who has access to art. His practice of producing art in different media and across a variety of distribution platforms demonstrates this commitment to accessibility. He makes inexpensive but high-quality “collectibles” that thousands of devotees can acquire. He is exploring new media to reach more people, including an augmented reality app with Accute Art so people can virtually place his works in their surroundings through their smartphones.
There are street art tours all over the world. I did one in Israel as well as Colombia, and even though I’m 70, my world is expanding. I’m starting to be more and more sensitive to the street art vibe in fashion and in new trendy spaces like Sophie’s Artist Lounge in Grand Center.
You don’t have to travel far to get involved and get a feel for what our contemporary art world has to say both on and off the streets.