Street art. Of course, we can easily think of a dozen
more confusing terms in the contemporary art. But still, street art is quite a complex
topic. What exactly it is? Are sculptures and installations are considered as
street art? What are the origins of the movement? Isn’t it just a fancy name
for vandalism? All of these questions will be answered in the following
First of all, let’s talk about the beginnings of street
art. We all know that writings on the walls are not a product of the modern pop
culture. Historians date first cave drawings from 40,000 years ago, and also do
not forget about the Ancient Rome, where city walls were serving as modern
internet forums for services exchange and as a platform for speaking your mind.
But, we do not contribute the birth of street art to those tendencies. Why?
Because most of the notions connected with this art movement are dealing with
the urbanization and the megalopolis phenomena. People were so lost in the
changing urban scenario, the reaction for the evolving property regulations and
increasing population were revolving and the need to find something of their
own, to appropriate the piece of hostile environment. That is why we deal with street art as a 20th
century invention. We also have to mention the rebellious part of it, which is
of a high importance. It is essential, that this movement is going against the
public norms and is a symbol for freedom and going against the system. Which is
again connected with the urbanization and industrial revolution.
In order to gain some understanding of the street art hierarchy,
we need to note a few genres. Tag – simplified inscription of street artist’s
pseudonym or the name of his crew.
Public usually consider it as a vandalism,
but actually it is just the smallest element of the whole art movement, that
stands for the invasion to the public space and self-expression. Tag is like a
letter in the world, it is essential. After the tag, there goes graffiti.
Due to the huge
amount of tags, people wanted to distinguish themselves from other crews. They
invented new fonts and creative visuals for their tags. So graffiti is still somebody’s
pseudonym, but put in much more creative frameworks. Then the transition period
came. The era of post-graffiti, which is something in between graffiti and
It is not just the words anymore; it is completed with wild fonts and
additional images. Finally, street art came around. Its main purpose besides
self-expression is the appropriation of the urban environment, changing
perspective and driving attention to the before unnoticeable places. It
reserves the illegal aspect and protest against the system, but gains more
cultural meaning and artistic aesthetics. Now street art is an international phenomenon
that is comprehensible to people all over the world; it has gained a recognizable
amount of influence and integrated into the main art discourse.
However, due to the controversial status of the movement
at the beginning (vandalism/art), documentation and analysis of street art had developed
quite late, missing some essential establishing years. That is why the
theoretical part of it is quite uncertain, critiques still have discussions
about the timing and styles evolvement. But it does not prevent us from
enjoying every bit of street art all around the world!