Graffiti - is it art?
Graffiti - art or vandalism?
Is graffiti an art form? Is it legal? The answer, similar to the answer to lots of questions, is 'it depends' and that is relatively straightforward. But the other question remains - is it art?
The images you see on this page were taken by us when we attended a graffiti event locally. It was one of the best art events I have ever been to. The air was alive with an atmosphere of creativity - and the lingering smell of spray paint, of course. There was no avoiding that.
The artists started work in the afternoon as as darkness fell, and this ordinary, rather run-down area became alive with color, music and energy. It was street art at its best. Or maybe I should call it performance art? This was, after all a legal event and part of the excitement was watching the artists at work.
I was amazed at the skill and dedication they demonstrated too. The energy they showed was fabulous - the way they climbed stepladders and makeshift ladders formed from old pallets. Many had their entire families there to watch the 'show' and in addition to the art and the energy, it was also a social event.
All images © BritFlorida or Andy Royston and taken on iPhones. iPhoneography is another art which is debated by traditional critics. This, of course, is in the same way that painters decried photography in the nineteenth century or the way that doom-mongers 'predicted' that television would mean the end of the film industry...
About the event
This was a legal event in that the artists were painting the buildings with the owner's permission. They are old warehouses in a Fort Lauderdale district called FAT Village; the arts and technology district. The warehouses, now studios for artists and craftspeople, run parallel to the railroad track.In many cases, like the one you see above, the artist (and often, his or her assistant) prepared the building in advance by painting their 'canvas' in a base color.
In this case, you can see that the artist had prepared the wall by painting it a wonderful pink color. There I am, sitting on one of the huge used truck tires that were scatted around the waste ground between the railway tracks and the warehouse buildings. These too were 'attacked' by the artists and painted in bright colors.
In one of the warehouses, boards had been set up and others worked on those.This photograph was taken on the day after the event. You see, I had been so delighted by the previous evening, by the carnival atmosphere, the energy and creativity, that I decided that we should go back the following day.
Even though the area was now very quiet, the artwork remained spectacular.Yes, artwork. You see, I am firmly in favor of any efforts that are made to brighten up public areas that would otherwise be dowdy and run-down.
Definitions of 'art' vary widely. Mine? To me, art is, or should be, something that makes people a little happier, something that makes us smile. I'm not talking about the graffiti that features meaningless words (usually words you wouldn't want a four year old to read) or that is meaningless daubs, I am referring to artwork that is skilled and well, cheerful enough to brighten the day.
Who is Banksy?
Well, we know that he's the most famous graffiti artist today but really, that's all we know. Don't you find it fascinating that books are written about him, posters and prints are sold, even guide books are available - all about an anonymous person? The nearest guess we have is that he is a Bristol lad who relocated to London and the name Robin Gunningham has been mentioned but we don't really know ... yet. That in itself is pretty amazing in today's transparent internet-driven world.
The original art form?
A gazillion or so years ago, a caveman (or more likely, cave woman) picked up a charred stick and drew on the wall of a cave. Examples of graffiti from ancient cultures still exist today. They are often cited as a means by which historians learn more about the culture of the day. Doesn't the present day version have a great deal to say about today's culture and society? I believe it does..
I fully intend to have this photograph printed onto canvas. The free-form paint is just stunning and the grids formed by the gates give it a geometry that pleases my eye. I love the colors. A definition of art is a personal thing but if my definition is 'something that makes me happy' then this is true art that I want to see on my wall every day.Jackson Pollock, eat your heart out.
I have read a report that says that recently, a Pollock was sold at Christie's for $58,363,750. Look at that number again! Yes, I'd like to own that and either resell it or leave it to my family as a superb legacy but would I have it on my wall? No, I think I prefer my photograph.It makes me happy.
I love this photograph. It shows someone turning up for the street art event. You can see what looks to be the artwork reflected in the chrome work of this classic car. But what makes me chuckle is that the driver has tattoos. That is another ancient art form that is incredibly popular today.