Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Graffiti: at 'Home' and in the Street

Eric Thayer for The New York Times
In major cities like Los Angeles, a bumper crop of scrawls has blossomed. More Photos »

Lately, I've become interested in graffiti as an expression of culture, from Brazilian favelas turning their urban slums into tourist attractions to modern museums celebrating graffiti as an innovative art form. This week, two more takes on 'outside' art. In the New York Times, Cities Report Surge in Graffiti and from London's Financial Times, Off the Wall. The first article laments the upsurge of graffiti now defacing cities across the United States. From that article, Ramona Findley, a Los Angeles police detective who heads the department’s graffiti task force says, “It’s very interesting; with your violent crime going down, it seems like your mischievous crime is going up." Accepted now by the art world, 'taggers' tout community spirit not gang affiliation - no longer just an oppositional art form but one perhaps aiming for the rewards of capitalism, hoping notoriety will bring money or fame?  Regardless, the clean-up is placing a burden on city budgets.

From Graffiti Interiors

Off the Wall explicates graffiti's domestication as it moves indoors from outside, fashionably ensconced in rich, private homes as both art and decoration. Artists are being commissioned not only by individuals, but by corporations as well. Graffiti artists are now into home design, with websites and stand alone shops. They've taken urban art off the wall and into furniture design as well, selling to rock stars and royalty. As the article explains:

Spurred on by the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and others during the 1980s, the style gradually became gentrified, moving from the exterior walls of derelict buildings and subway carriages to the interior walls of auction houses. Graffiti artists such as Banksy, Ben Eine and Shepard Fairey are now big names in the contemporary art world, their work hung in the homes of celebrities and collectors. And graffiti's place indoors is not just confined to canvas: today’s graffiti artists do not restrict themselves to a single medium.

On another note, just this week I saw designers on HGTV using grafitti to make-over homes - yes, it is now that mainstream! For other perspectives on graffiti, international, commercial, political and otherwise, go to: Hello Brazil: Favela Tourism in the Time of the Olympics, Graffiti: Vandalism or Art? and Urban Art in Kabul.

For the full article, click here for Cities Report Surge in Graffiti or here for Off the Wall.

Also check out these graffiti retailers - interesting stuff, quite a contrast to Ethan Allen, the ubiquitous colonial inspired furniture store in my part of the world!
Evl World Studio and Store
Graffiti Interiors
Jimmie Martin


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