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Styles & Periods
Graffiti Art

Graffiti Art, simply put, is writing, drawing or painting on a surface that is in public view. There is some argument as to whether ancient cave paintings and carvings qualify as graffiti, but there is no denying the rich history of visual communication and expression using the structures around us. Today, the word graffiti usually implies illegality, as marking property without the owner's consent is an explicitly criminal act in most of the world. Modern graffiti varies widely in both subject and style, from loose, freestyle territorial markings, to stenciled works and massive, complex murals. Throughout the modern history of graffiti, a focus on creating social commentary has persisted. In the 1980s, graffiti became indelibly linked with urban and hip-hop culture, and opened the world of art and expression to a young, poor, often marginalized segment of society. Graffiti influenced the rising stars of the New York art world greatly, and this influence is evident in the works of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Haring’s cartoon-like images could be found all over the metropolitan landscape, scribbled on warehouse walls, as well as on gallery-hung canvases. He addressed many social issues and was particularly concerned with the AIDS epidemic. Jean-Michel Basquiat painted large compositions filled with childlike drawings, his logo and snippets of text. Both of these artists commanded large price tags for their work and achieved considerable popularity. Graffiti in the twenty first century is a global affair; some artists have achieved tremendous recognition and crossed into the world of mainstream art. Artists who have spun graffiti into lucrative careers include Banksy and Shepard Fairey.


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