Street Art: The Top 5 Best Street Artists In the World
Street art is defined as art that is created in a public place and can take many forms. Although it is often considered unlawful by governments and local councils, more recently there has been a growing appreciation for it and many artists have found fame and fortune by doing what they would previously have been arrested for. Street art can take many forms and encompasses a wide range of disciplines: painting, sculpture, posters, street performances and stencilled pictures. The most well known form of street art - and most common - is graffiti; Unfortunately the senseless 'tagging' by certain members of society who feel the need to remind everyone that they exist by spray painting their name everywhere they can has given graffiti and street art a bad name - because of this, more artistic forms of graffiti have now been termed post-graffiti to distinguish it from a form of vandalism. While much street art is anonymous for fear of incrimination, several artists have been bold enough to openly declare ownership whether through pseudonym or not - and it is the best of these that this article is about.
The Top 5 Street Artists:
http://www.xmarkjenkinsx.com/Click thumbnail to view full-size
Born in Virginia in 1970, Mark Jenkins has made a name for himself in the street art world by placing sculptures and figures made from clear packing tape around urban environments around 2003 - mostly in Rio de Janeiro and Washington DC. More recently (2006 onwards) he has dressed up these figures and placed them in various positions so as to trick the public into thinking they're real people while discretely filming the reactions of the public. His other projects involve placing hundreds of tape babies all over different cities in subtle locations and placing giant lollipop heads on traffic meters on Independence Avenue in Washington DC.
http://obeygiant.com/Click thumbnail to view full-size
Frank Shepard Fairey
As he is more commonly known, Shepard Fairey was born in 1970 and sprung to fame in 1989 with his 'André the Giant has a Posse' sticker campaign while studying design at college. The campaign has since been parodied many times and evolved into the 'Obey Giant' campaign which, with the help of people from all over the world, can be found in most major cities around the world in one form or another. More recently he has turned to professional graphic design - his most notable work being the 'Hope' poster and others for Barack Obama's election campaign in 2008. Fairey has had his work displayed in art many world-famous art galleries such as the Smithsonian, The US National Portrait Gallery, The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert museum in London; aside from his art he has also publish several books and DJs under the pseudonyms DJ Diabetic and Emcee Insulin.
http://www.jr-art.net/Click thumbnail to view full-size
JR was born in 1984 in Paris but is of eastern European and Tunisian origin. Having found a camera on the Paris Métro at the age of 17, he embarked on a career as - in his own words - a photograffeur whereupon he takes photos of normal people and turns them into giant posters that he and a team of volunteers put up in many different countries. By far his biggest work was in Kiberia - a huge slum in Kenya - where he took photos of the locals before returning a year later to turn the roofs of the buildings into giant picture frames using a waterproof material so as that they might serve a dual purpose. Other notable works include using the favéla in Rio de Janeiro as his best known work - a canvas and a 100ft high mural on the side of the Tate Modern in London of a man pointing a gun at the camera called Ladj Ly.
http://www.blublu.org/Click thumbnail to view full-size
Blu is an Italian street artist from Bologna who's gained fame through his huge wall paintings. Often very surreal and sometimes a little disturbing, Blu has painted walls in many European cities including Berlin and London (where he had one of his works displayed on the side of the Tate Modern too) but also in several south and central American countries too. At one point Blu visited the German city of Wuppertal where he anonymously printed 6,000 magazines full of his drawings without any explanation or information which he then distributed for free on the streets; these magazines were followed up with several large scale murals throughout the city. Where many street artists have now incorporated canvas paintings in their work, Blu has remained faithful to keeping his work in full view, although a lot of it is now commissioned or produced for art festivals.
http://www.banksy.co.uk/Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lo and behold, it's Banksy. While this list isn't in any particular order, Banksy is last simply because he is probably the most well known and most would have expected him to be the first one mentioned. However, before getting to Banksy I wanted you to see the work of other artists in the same field. When it comes to Banksy, everyone knows that nobody knows who he is - and yet he constantly manages to create works of art in the most inconspicuous of places. Born in the mid-70s in Bristol in the west of England, Banksy rose to fame through his street art which often took the form of political satire. Influenced by the 80s French artist Blek le Rat, he uses a mixture of graffiti writing and stencilling; unfortunately much of his early work was dismissed as vandalism by the local council and removed - but now it is considered art and even used to promote tourism. Banksy has probably played the greatest part in bringing street art to the public eye and even took over a large part of the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery for 12 weeks in the summer - displaying more than 100 pieces of art and attracting over 300,000 visitors! Although now widely accepted as art, the work of Banksy still stirs up controversy as many who campaign to "Keep Britain Tidy" see it as glorifying vandalism... but then again, even Monet had his cynics.
While those 5 are, in my humble opinion, the best in the world, that is by no means saying that there is no other street art in the world that is better than some of theirs, however, very few produce as much high-quality work as them. There are one or two one-off artists such as Joseph Carnevale, a North Carolina university student who, in May 2009, while working part-time in construction, cut up and arranged several traffic barrels to create the white and yellow barrel monster to the right. Unfortunately, while the construction company was impressed and said they'd have given Joseph the barrels due to the publicity it generated, the police didn't see the artistic side and arrested and charged him with larceny and destruction of property.
Anyway, this has been but a short insight into the world of street art; there is so much more out there but it would simply take years to do it all justice - so I hope you leave this page with a new appreciation for this art form, and maybe even seek some out yourself!
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