Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Market blurring line between graffiti and art

This story from the New York Times confronts the question, "Is graffiti Art?", and answers, "It is, this year":
PARIS — Like a slow-burning fuse, graffiti has smoldered in the contemporary art world for decades: omnipresent in the streets yet not quite hot enough to catch fire in the market. But this year it exploded, with graffiti and “street art” shows in major museums and gallery spaces both sides of the Atlantic — and people have been lining up round the block to get in.

In March and April, a show of graffiti tags in the south-west gallery of the Grand Palais, one of the top Paris exhibition venues, was a media and public sensation.

“The lines around the building every day were even longer than those for the Warhol exhibition next door,” said Alain-Dominique Gallizia, a French architect who created the show, during an interview.
The story also quotes Valériane Mondot, who "belongs to a new generation of gallery owners who nurture, guide and promote their graffiti artists, often using the Web." Similarly,
In London, gallery owners like Steve Lazarides of the Lazarides Gallery, Paul Jones of the Elms Lesters Gallery and Richard Tokatly of the Artificial Gallery are playing a similar role. Mr. Tokatly, who shows artists including Banksy, Damien Hirst, the Chapman brothers and Grayson Perry on his Web site, seems to have a feel for the way the cultural wind is blowing. “I have more hits for Banksy than I do for Damien Hirst,” he said.
If that trend continues, the market may provide the final say-so on whether graffiti can simultaneously be vandalism and art.

On the complete other end of the graffiti spectrum, check out this excellent short video discussion (less than 4 minutes, SFW) of "Pixação," a specific style of graff writing practiced (and widely despised) in Sao Paolo, Brazil. According to ATX Graffiti, "The name comes from “piche”, the local word for pitch (tar) which was frequently stolen from local construction sites to use as tagging paint." The narrator interpreting the glyphs in the short video says that Pixação's practitioners are among the poorest, most desperate people in Brazil, risking their lives for painting. "Nobody cares about them, nobody sees them, they're invisible." The overarching message they're sending, he said, is "I'd rather you hate me than ignore me."

RELATED: See this NYT blog post about the Musée des Graffiti in Paris.

AND MORE: A gallery in Mexico City is playing a similar role promoting the work of graffiti artists, according to the LA Times' La Plaza blog.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Grits

I lost track of all the graffiti legislation this session. Can you provide an update?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Oooh, good one! I haven't checked myself, but I'll follow up soon in another post.

Anonymous said...

Graffiti: I can't define it but know it when I see it.


Anonymous said...

Most Texans don't care what the Parisian art world thinks about vandalism. We know what vandalism is, we see it all over our neighborhoods.

Those who commit violence against property have committed a shameful and terrible act. I have no doubt that they are more likely to commit other crimes such as burglary and rape. Texans, let's continue to mobilize against this plague!