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Art can be found in urban spaces across the world. Some of it comes from cooperation between local government, galleries, and artists. It is public art as part of the orthodox art world, traditional and formal in structure, to be enjoyed in parks, High streets, and train stations everywhere. However, these urban spaces are also home to other types of art, many of them unsanctioned and even illegal, but also loved, and sometimes condemned, by the communities surrounding them. 


There are many styles of art to be found in the city streets, and these have changed a great deal over the years. One type of art, however, has remained relevant and present since its adoption by the generation who grew up in the late 1960’s: that ‘art’ is writing, or as the general public knows it ‘graffiti’. Its early appearance in Philadelphia, New York City and Los Angeles as a tagging movement was spearheaded by gangs and renegade teens such as Cornbread and Julio 204. But it was the kids of New York City who turned it into an art movement, by taking simple names and adding flair, arrows, and colors as embellishments. The practice spread so fast that by 1972 newspapers had criticized the activity as a virus among the city’s youth. 


From ‘tagging’ (writing a stylized signature) to ‘throw-ups’ (designed for quick execution, with often simple, large bubble letters used to take up space) to more elaborate ‘pieces’ (larger, more time-intensive and colorful works), and lastly ‘burners’ (‘pieces’ that are so elaborate and impressive that they ‘burn’ the train or wall on which they are created), the proliferation of graffiti around the world is almost absolute. It is everywhere. And it has generated some of the key figures featured in this catalogue, including Crash, Lady Pink, Saber, and Ces.


Many street artists started out as writers, as in the case of Ben Eine, MuckRock, and Banksy, but others like Shepard Fairey and thousands more, came to street art with no wider urban background. However, due to their determination, and the popularity of their style of work, many have since become household names. Indeed, it is a testament to how far the wider urban art movement has become that graffiti writers and street artists alike have been able not only to make an impact on the streets, but also develop careers are fine artists.



Alan Ket – Graffiti Writer / Co-Founder Museum of Graffiti – Miami, Fl




In 2007 graffiti artist Alan Ket was charged with 14 criminal counts, including trespass, criminal mischief and making graffiti, according to the New York Times. He was convicted, paid his fines, and continues to make art and impact society – with graffiti.

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