Wednesday, 21 November 2012


The Beginning:

Caves at Lascaux, France:
Drawings and paintings were first marked on cave walls from the Paleolithic period (17,300 years old). Discovered in 1940 by four teenagers. They depict scenes of everyday life and stories and were originally drawn with bones and scratching, and then covered with ink.

Source: melissaomarkham

"By using charcoal, yellow ochre, and a red pigment made from hematite. they were able to not only draw images that others could understand, but brighten them up with color. In the Lascaux Cave in France, you will find representations of animals and people, but not of plants or landscapes. I wonder why? The Lascaux Cave Paintings were first discovered in 1940 by four teenagers. The cave was closed in 1963 due to damage to the paintings that was being created by the carbon dioxide that visitors were breathing out."

Ancient Roman Graffiti - Pompeii (Italy):

The latin numbers and names, mark how well they have fought in the past.

20th Century:

Kilroy/Chad - WW11:
Engravings of Kilroy on the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Featured quotes from political and social situations which were affecting the public and society at the time, such as "wot no.." relating to rationing.

Source: guy-sports

Source: guy-sports

Paris, May '68:
Riots in Paris in 1968 due to the civil unrest inspiring cultural and creative material. Marc Rohan author of Paris '68 magazine, featuring street art of the time.

Urban Graffiti:

Graffiti Artist - Sweet Toof:


Source: puregraffiti

"Sweet Toof recently featured in the ‘Independent on Sunday’, Urban Art article. This came as no surprise as within a short period of twelve months out of no where his brand new teeth painted gleaming with juicy bright pink gums loomed high and low all over North East London. His paintings and sculptures for ’Burning Candy’ go for the literal and metaphorical deitrus that surrounds us, reconstructing the ‘beautiful’ monstrosities that we find on the street and in the noise all around us, in the order/disorder of life, and the apparent, becoming non-apparent: the balaclavas in our soul, reclaiming what is rightfully ours. The Vanitas. Indeed, those skulls and their teeth, teeth that grin and grimace mockingly in that old and knowing Mexico style. To get ones teeth into things before it’s too late…"

1970's New York:

Spray Can Graffiti began to emerge on train carriages, which at the time was relative to the emerging hip hop culture at the time. This was seen as a way of making the language of the streets visible, announcing a present saying "we will not be ignored. Hip hop was seen as a political, social debate, whilst alongside this the 1970's Disco scene was emerging which was seen as the opposite.

Jon Narr, Photographer, 1973 - "Becoming a graffiti photographer":

It was done to portray messages from the poorer suburbs of the city, to show the affluent, wealthy citizens they weren't to be forgotten about, and still remains today.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-88) Neo-expressionist Artist:

SAMO was his main alter ego project, taking the name from "same old shit". This was a reoccurring project he carried out with poetic quotations of life and it's complexes, asking questions and leaving the answer open for public interpretation. It became a phenomenon and people became much more aware of him, and SAMO was killed in 1979 leading to other artists to tag - "SAMO IS DEAD". He also featured the Copyright mark next to his name on all his work, as seen below.

Source: frank151

Warhol and Basquiat developed Neo-Expressionist art. Neo-Expressionist art is a style which is referred to as 'modern' and usually consists of painting and/or sculpture. It emerged in the late 1970's and took over the art market until late 1980's. The vivid abstract perception of neo-expressionism is said to be inspired by the pop art movements and abstract expressionism. Artists caused backlash by reacting to the conceptual and minimal art movements of the 70's. Vivid colours and expressive strokes and texture are known in this movement, with layers, and printing experimentally.

"Throughout his career Basquiat focused on "suggestive dichotomies," such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience.[2] Basquiat's art utilized a synergy of appropriation, poetry, drawing and painting, which married text and image, abstraction and figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique.[3] Utilizingsocial commentary as a "springboard to deeper truths about the individual",[2] Basquiat's paintings also attacked power structuresand systems of racism, while his poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle.[3]" --


Campbell's Tomato Soup - Neo Expressionist Art by Andy Warhol

Source: dailyartfixx

Neo Expressionist Art by Basquiat

"Basquiat’s art was influenced by imagery and symbolism from African, Aztec, Greek, and Roman cultures, as well as that of his own Puerto Rican and Haitian heritage and Black and Hispanic cultures. The crown was Basquiat’s signature motif. In some paintings, the crowns are placed on top of generic figures. More often, he crowned his personal heroes including  jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and athletes, such as Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, and Hank Aaron.
Basquiat began many paintings by pasting his own drawings or photocopies of them onto the canvas. He also used words to elaborate his themes often repeating the same words over and over again creating a hypnotic effect.
In 1984, Basquiat began using a new layering technique using silkscreens.  His drawings were transferred onto screens and printed onto the canvas. He then painted, drew, and added more silk-screened images to build the piece into a multi-layered composition.
In the mid-1980s Basquiat began using heroin, and much of his artwork appeared unfinished and repetitive. The death of Andy Warhol in 1987  had a profound affect on him.  His grief  turned into creativity  and his painting displayed a new confidence and maturity.  Many of his works during this period make references to death."

Keith Haring - Radient Baby, 1990:

On what would of been his 54th birthday, Google celebrated his life and art work, by dedicating their search engine logo to him,


In 1981 he first sketched chalk drawings on black paper, painted plastic, metal and other found objects. In 1984 he visited Melbourne, and expanded his art further. His subway art work became more popular with him drawing and working over advertisements.

He opened a "pop up shop" selling t-shirts, toys, posters bearing his signature images and became a celebrity hangout. This closed down in 2005. He has been critised for breaking down barriers of "high and low culture" art in the subways, crossing the paths of personal art with messages and corporate advertising.

Much of his work was based heavily on Aztec, African and other tribal prints, giving a raw aesthetic.

John Feckner, Broken Promises, 1980:

"Falsas Promesas - Broken Promises" along with four other messages such as "last hope" and "decay", was tagged on an abandoned building on Charlotte Street in The Bronx, NYC to show his feelings on the poor use of the city.

Source: johnfekner

"In August 1980, Don Leicht and John Fekner collaborated on a project located at the site of the People’s Convention held at Charlotte Street in the South Bronx. This alternative convention coincided with the National Convention of the Democratic Party being held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The six spray painted messages included DecayBroken Promises, Falsas PromesasLast Hope, Broken Treaties and Save Our School. This work transversely complemented each other with two different and distinct approaches. Fekner’s stencilled messages were succinct and dramatic in size and Don’s Birdfeeders were small-scaled and intimate painted sculptures for the children of the neighborhood. Local residents, young and old, as well as William Scott from Fashion Moda helped Don and Fekner on their collaboration.

The work identified and drew attention to the existing conditions of the immediate Black and Latino communities, as well as addressing the concerns of Native American Indians who also attended the convention in the Bronx. Presidential Candidate Ronald Reagan stood amidst the rubble and ruins on August 5th, 1980 promising to rebuild the area, as did his predecessor President Jimmy Carter in October 1977. The area has seen improvements through the rebuilding initiatives of Mayor Ed Koch, Ed Logue’s SBDO Charlotte Street Gardens, and the ongoing efforts of MBD Community Housing Corporation, SoBro and other newer partnerships and financial institutions."

Source: johnfekner
1/6 messages as part of the convention of the derelict building on Charlotte Street in 1980.

Jenny Holzer:

Jenny Holzer is an American conceptual artist, who works with digital displays, being relative to advertising. She uses "truisms" which state the obvious, whilst prompting thought through type and LED displays, bringing in technological feeling and vibe with the audience.

Source: adaweb

"The main focus of jenny holzer has been on the investigation of means to disseminate her ideas within public space. since the late seventies, she has been working in the street and in public buildings, using media that would enable her work to blend in the landscape. from lcd displays (e.g., in times square, new york) to posters and stickers (applied to such urban elements as telephone booths or parking meters), the texts function as comments on that environment they fit into, stimulating awareness of our social conditioning as conveyed by the very landscape in which we may be confronted by them."

Video Game Culture:

Graffiti painted on The Berlin Wall which was built in 1961 to separate Berlin and Germany throughout the Cold War. It was 14ft high and nicknamed the "death strip". Being controversial enough as it is, the wall allowed those on the West Side to express their opinions on issues and differences between the two were shown visually and expressively, with passion and belief; whilst the East Side of the wall remained clean. This was due to laws on the East Side restricting painting. In the past three decades work has been removed from the wall for controversial issues, however odd pieces exist if you're willing to try and find them.

Source: dalismo

This is a chalk drawing by Dalismo, a famous artist known for his unique talents. This is a piece based on the Berlin Wall in North Carolina, America. It features German text also.

Source: travelinsider

Graffiti on the Berlin Wall in 1981.  

Here you can see the old graffiti under the white paint, which the artists will be working over.

Source: f5torefresh

"We recently showed you the final production of the collaboration shoe between Overkill and New Balance in memory of the falling of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago. Overkill just released some pictures of parts of the wall that they had artists graffiti on. Here is what they had to say about it:
“According to our SMU Release on 09/01/2010 we did a cooperation with the Berlin Art Project “Write the Wall”. Therefor berlin graffiti artists BOA, HOCUS & DURO256 painted a 20m long piece of the original berlin wall that was especially rebuild for this art show.
As some people might remember the former berlin wall was completely painted during the cold war. At that time lots of artist expressed theire feelings and wishes to end this war on one of the biggest canvases ever seen.
Our aim was to bring back the spirit, even a little, to show what Berlin and Overkill is all about: reminiscence of a turbulent history, living today and make the best of now and rocking the future with style.
Hope you like it!”

TATS CRU, a New York based Graffiti group came to light in 1997,  promoting Coca-Cola advertisements, as well as MTV, McDonald's etc, going against normal conventions of street art, with global organisations encouraging it in a positive manner, embracing the power of communication in has, rather than being seen as illegal and vandalism.

My own photos. Nelson St, Bristol; Painted by TATS CRU during street a art festival, organised by Inkie; See No Evil (August 2011) Photo taken in 2012.

Graffiti in Video Games has become popular in the past decade also, allowing gamers to virtually spray paint cities, creating their own artwork.

The Wall:

Invader, was a French Artist who was born in 1969. He is Thierry Guetta's cousin, made famous through Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop. His trademark is well crafted mosaics of Space Invaders, in reference to the 1978 arcade game. He placed his mosaic tiles around France, and in 22 other countries, to ensure permanent art work, whilst remaining anonymous.

My own photo of Space Invaders work in Amsterdam, 2012.

Attack of Montpellier - Conceptual map showing Invader's work in one city, almost portraying a game to "collect his work".

Re-Emergence of Street Art in Galleries:

Shepard Fairey's Obama Campaign for the 2008 Presidential Election have become world recognised pieces of art work and graffiti shown in galleries, and sold as prints as shown below.

Source: obeygiant

Banksy is widely known also for his art work being shown in galleries after becoming slightly acknowledged as an artist, even hosting his own exhibitions.

Parisian Photographer JR, Favela Morro Da Provienda - Rio, 2008, works with weaving images of city and street art together reflecting lives and violence.

Blu (Italy) and Os Gemeos (Brazil) painted this piece in Lisbon in 2010. The piece of art shows a bloated oil dealer, drinking the contents out of the world, 'sucking the world dry'.


Blu - Animated Graffiti. His art was used in the Corsa Advert for TV in 2011 - a spray painted man, animated so he is walking alongside the car.

123 KLAN (France) - commissioned by Stussy to make a t-shirt showing urban towns and cities.

123Klan is a creative studio founded in France in 1992 by Mrs klor and Scien. We are currently based in Montréal, specializing in new strategies and tendencies.

We offer creative consulting, art direction, branding, illustration, toy design, character design, and conferences. We also do graffiti, drink  alcohol, smoke ganja, sell drugs, knives, machine guns, uranium and kidneys, as well as many endangered pets, like koalas, seals and dolphins. (Dead or alive. Rare or "a la plancha", depends how you like it...)" -- 123klan

Nike Magazine Spread

Adidas Street Art trainer designs.

Adidas advertising campaign.

Street Art Carhartt sticker pack.

They have an established list of previous clients:

Adfunture Adidas, ADZIFAie™, Artoyz, Capcom, Carhartt, Coca Cola, Computer Arts. corbis, Ecko Unltd, Footlocker, FUBU, Furi-Furi, Fuse Galerie, Yves Laroche, Gold Coin, Hasbro, Hot Wheels, Idn, Johnny  Cupcakes, KidRobot, Lamborghini, Laurence King, Line Majestics, Microsoft, Mighty Healthy, Milkcrate, Mini Cooper, MTV, Nasdaq, Nike, PEPSI COLA, Plan B, Playstation psp, Psyop, Rated Rookies, Saputo Scion Sid, Lee, Six Pack, Sony, Stussy, Toy2R, Triumvir, Ubisoft, Vans, Wieden & Kennedy, wired magazine and Zooyork

Many of these are street fashion and skate brands, as well as electronics and digital media.

Paul Curtis (Moose) - Reverse Graffiti. Uses a stencil and a water jet spray to remove dirt and debris through a stencil to leave a spray painted type image. He adds beauty to derelict areas, buildings and run down areas which need improving.

The Global Picture:
"Bomb It" - (Tribe-ca Film Festival)

Free Art Fridays: 

A movement in which artists place free art out in the public for people to see and take art home. My Dog Sighs can be credited with starting Free Art Friday and started a flickr group in 2006 showing the art produced.

April 21t, 2012; Afrosol Can
Source: flickr

Sam 3 (Spain), Murcia 2010 - Only uses black paint on billboards, responding to his environment and and surroundings at the time. He uses the city as a stage where a story or narrative can be played out, giving an idea or a character and leaving it's viewers to decipher the story and message.

VHILS aka Alexandra Farto (Portugal), London 2008 - Scratched away from the wall, not painted.

Faith 71 - Artist based in Amsterdam, who places red stickers round a natural hole in plaster, keeping to hyperrealist art and taking into account the environment.

Diva (Brooklyn) and Fafi (France) - Female Artists. Gender isn't normally considered in graffiti and street art, and both sexes share equality. However feminine colours and styles are coming across through type and image, clarifiying trends and colour choices feminising the street.

Graffiti Woman - a book based on female street artists.

Art of Resistance:

JR also places his work on the wall at the Palestine, similar to Banksys daring work in 2005. It portrays the effect of human life, and the surrounding political and social issues at the time. Banksy's "girl with the balloons" was painted on the wall, showing rising up and escaping over the wall. This relates to social, religious and political issues, but also made the wall a holiday destination for graffiti and street artists.

Source: briansewell

Many of Banksy's pieces such as this; Living Room, portray the idea of escape; a window, a ladder, or a door? Banksy had covered it all, and by doing so in an interesting, innovative, yet controversial way he received critisms. Some of his work portrays the wall as being the barrier for the worlds largest open prison.

Mural's however do the opposite, and advertise for the Palestine to be open and not enclosed, restoring the message being delivered in a to the point type and image way.