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Graffiti Art and History

Updated on December 12, 2016
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An example of the highly decorative graffiti typically found in Olinda, Pernambuco, BrazilPainting panels on San Jeronimo Street for the Meeting of Styles in the historic center of Mexico City, 2016Stencil in Freiburgcolorfull grafitti of a chameleon on entire pink wall outside the station of tren ligero of XochimilcoStreet Art by Gagosh
An example of the highly decorative graffiti typically found in Olinda, Pernambuco, Brazil
An example of the highly decorative graffiti typically found in Olinda, Pernambuco, Brazil | Source
Painting panels on San Jeronimo Street for the Meeting of Styles in the historic center of Mexico City, 2016
Painting panels on San Jeronimo Street for the Meeting of Styles in the historic center of Mexico City, 2016 | Source
Stencil in Freiburg
Stencil in Freiburg | Source
colorfull grafitti of a chameleon on entire pink wall outside the station of tren ligero of Xochimilco
colorfull grafitti of a chameleon on entire pink wall outside the station of tren ligero of Xochimilco | Source
Street Art by Gagosh
Street Art by Gagosh | Source

Graffiti has existed since the prehistoric times when men painted the caves.

Since those times graffiti has been a way of visual communication about social or political themes.
For some people, graffiti is considered an art, but others consider it vandalism and for this reason, we can see nowadays, murals with non permanent paintings. Sometimes artists compete about how much time will last their messages on the wall.

Graffiti is often related to underground hip hop music and b-boying creating a lifestyle that remains hidden from the general public and is often associated with gangs marking their territory.

The most notorious examples of political graffiti are the Berlin Wall, the West Bank Barrier and Northern Ireland murals, but we can see others all over the world expressing most of the times an underground culture.


One of the most famous graffiti artists is Banksy that remains unknown and uses graffiti as a way to communicate his political and anti-war ideas. His works can be found most of the times in Bristol, England, but he has worked in other countries all around the world, as the West Bank Barrier.


Street art can be a very strong way of activism and subversion while being very easy to reach the public. It was through graffity that a pair of writers from the Bronx become famous back in the 1970’s.

Painting is a way of communication ever since

Paleoanthropologist and rock art researcher Genevieve von Petzinger suggest that graphic communication, and the ability to preserve and transmit messages may be much older than we think.

with Portuguese subtitles

The History of Foo Was Here Graffiti

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Engraving of Kilroy on the WWII Memorial.Foo was here graffiti figure
Engraving of Kilroy on the WWII Memorial.
Engraving of Kilroy on the WWII Memorial. | Source
Foo was here graffiti figure
Foo was here graffiti figure | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size

The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) separated the city of Berlin in Germany from 1961 to 1989. Many people thought it was a symbol of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall was taken down on November 9, 1989. The Berlin Wall was about 168 km (104 miles) long.

via Wikipedia

Moments in History - The Fall of the Berlin Wall

A view of life in Berlin, before, during and after the Wall fell

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Northern Ireland Murals

Northern Ireland contains around 2,000 political murals since the 1970s and they aren't from one political side only. But there aren't only political themes, they also have religious, mythological and sports ones.
I selected some murals but you can see much more on Wikipedia.

West Bank barrier

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West Bank barrier

The naming of the barrier is controversial. Israelis, most commonly refer to the barrier as the "separation (hafrada) fence"and "security fence" or "anti-terrorist fence"

Palestinians, most commonly refer to the barrier as racial segregation wall and some opponents of the barrier refer to it as the "Apartheid Wall."

The International Court of Justice, in its advisory opinion on the barrier, wrote it had chosen to use the term "wall" "the other expressions sometimes employed are no more accurate if understood in the physical sense."

The BBC's style guide for journalists states "The BBC uses the terms barrier, separation barrier or West Bank barrier as acceptable generic descriptions to avoid the political connotations of "security fence" (preferred by the Israeli government) or "apartheid wall" (preferred by the Palestinians)."

via Wikipedia

Fabulous Picture Show - West Bank Story

A movie directed by Banksy, who also appears as an actor

If you never watched the movie "Exit Through the Gift Shop" I do recommend it!

The story is about how an eccentric Frenchman, living in L.A., trying to befriend Banksy with the collaboration of some of the well-known world graffiters.

The movie is directed by Bansky himself, who also appears during the scenes.

Academy nominee for Best Documentary Feature, USA, 2011

Graffiti Animations

Blank walls are a shared canvas and we're all artists

— Carla H. Krueger

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    • Margaridab profile imageAUTHOR

      Margarida Borges 

      8 years ago from Lyon, France

      I'm so glad you liked it! :)

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for a great hub - this is an awesome collection.

    • Margaridab profile imageAUTHOR

      Margarida Borges 

      8 years ago from Lyon, France

      Thanks :)

    • Youngcurves19 profile image

      Youngcurves19 

      8 years ago from Hawaii

      GREAT HUB

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