Banksy, Keith Haring, Shepard Fairey, and Jean-Michel Basquiat have become household names as a result of their work taking the techniques of graffiti artists and bringing them to mainstream culture.
Learning more about these two terms, “Street Art” and “Graffiti” can help deepen the understanding of their relationship to each other, and the broader culture.
Street Art has enriched the dialogue in the arts community, it’s culturally significant and often charged with visual messaging tied to a cause. For ages, people have shown creativity and expressed themselves through art. In contemporary popular street culture it has been through Street Art and Graffiti. Defining the two simply, Street art is imaged-based and created with permission, while graffiti is word-based and illegal.
While street art and murals have existed for a while, it is safe to say that the idea of painting on the streets started with graffiti. Thus, graffiti can be said to be the father of street art, and most street artists, like the ones mentioned above, draw inspiration from it.
While laws often consider Graffiti vandalism, over time, it has evolved from its label of “criminal mischief” to be considered an accepted art form. Currently Graffiti is commonly created to communicate with other graffiti artists but in some cases, gangs make use of graffiti as a way of marking their territory which drives a negative connotation.
With unpredictable weather conditions and improvised workspaces, street art isn’t that easy to do. In fact, it’s extremely difficult, and that’s precisely why street artists deserve so much respect. Whether we like it or hate it, street art is an important part of the identity of cities and cultures.
Above: Works by Henry Avignon – Currently for sale in the International Art Acquisitions Gallery. Please enquire via email to purchase.