The Story of Graffiti

It is not a rare occasion, when going along the street you clash with some puzzled and giant inscription. Vivid colors and intricacy lead you to stare, guessing and having a hunch what is written on the wall or building. That is the first impression people get about graffiti, embellishing their buildings. Indeed, graffiti style has emerged not long ago, but simultaneous simplicity and involute plot leave us nothing but astonishment and excitement. It is an issue of street-art culture, which signifies that modern art is not a prerogative of rich and intelligent people, but talented ones.

Graffiti is recognized as street art style that embraced outdoors of New York in 1920s. However, there are some ideas that it was only an outburst of this art, which has accomplished a long history of its development since ancient times.  As strange as it may seem, petroglyphic drawings in Egypt and Greece are likely to be the first steps towards graffiti, which were executed on statues, temples and even pyramids. They carried either religious or warning meaning. Medieval graffiti is associated with pre-Columbian America and the culture of Maya people and, in addition, Vikings in Northern Europe, who were engaged in runic writings. In Early Modern Period graffiti was left by soldiers in various parts of the world, who were eager to leave some written mark about their conquest or stay in the mission station.

All in all, at the beginning of the 20th century people faced graffiti style, which slightly differs from the modern version. Moreover, the culture of this street art style was enriched with new methods, terms, authors and, of course, ideas. A critic is also included, which features the question: are graffiti images an art or an act of vandalism? There is no doubt that most of the authors (so-called writers) strived for expressing own social and political perception, but it did not obstructed to make images (tags) alerting and well-performed. Mainly, they were observed on the streets of American cities, where young people “imprinted” their dissatisfaction with the President or certain politicians.

Many tags were created in order to point out musical preferences. For example, the most prominent tag of the 20th century is “Clapton is God”, which appeared in Islington station (London subway) in 1967. In this way fans of rock-musician supported the release of his new album “Bluesbreakers” and the rock-n-roll culture.  The decades of 1970s and 1980s are a period of protesting punk rock movement. Especially, it covered streets of Manhattan, where the most visible tag was an upside-down martini glass – a symbol of Missing Foundation (punk group of 1984-1992). By the way, Manhattan is also a native place of the first recognized graffiti writer – TAKI 183; his tags were all over NYC, pointing his name (Taki is simplified from Demetrius) and address (183rd street).

To date, lots of countries have admirable and talented writers, which decorate both their native streets and make great tags in different parts of the world. Some cases might be underlined. Miss Van started with painting incredible dolls on Toulouse streets and nowadays moved to Spain, sharing her art with fashion industry (Fornarina collection, particularly). Banksy is the most well-paid and the most mysterious painter of modernity. He hides real identity behind the pseudonym of Bansky and paintings criticizing politics. He alerts an attention with his nihilism and anti-capitalism views, which only encourage people to attend his gallery exhibitions all over the world.

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