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Art Or Vandalism? : The Acceptance Of Graffiti As An Art Form

2514 words - 10 pages

I believe that Graffiti is most certainly a valid art form. The question as to whether any forms of graffiti can be considered art is a controversial area. Is it vandalism when it is placed on the side of a building or a car and art when it is on a canvas on someone's wall or in a gallery- what is the difference? Graffiti, in its more complex forms, can be considered art because it clearly contains artistic elements, it communicates the artist's expression to the viewer, and the traditional art community has already accepted it. The objective of this essay is to explain how graffiti art overcomes the concerns of illegality and vandalism and can be considered as a true art form.Graffiti has been around for a long time; its birth goes back to the beginning of human society. It has been found in prehistoric times in cave drawings and on the uncovered in ancient Egyptian monuments (Stowers). The actual word graffiti is derived from two different words. First the Greek word "Graphein," meaning "to write" and secondly, the Italian word "Grafficar," which means "drawings, markings, scribbles, patterns, or messages that are painted, written, or carved on a surface" (Dennant).More recently, in the early 70's, modern day graffiti began to develop in the streets of New York and soon spread across the world. This began in the form of 'tagging' a fancy, scribble-like style of writing that purely served to represent a person's nickname. Tagging was never produced to grasp the viewer in an artistic manner and did not account for aesthetic style. A Diverse crowd of youths in New York saw this as a way of getting their name seen around the city and acquiring fame. As more and more people caught on to this new thing, the trains and subways got more filled with these tags and so a need for more artistically elaborate designs began. A New style emerged which went beyond the elements of just a normal tag. Writers fought for the position of "King" or "Queen" which meant that, not only did they produce many tags, but style and artistic talents were also taken into consideration (Stowers). Known heroes such as STAYHIGH 149, PHASE 2, STASH, Zephyr and Futura 2000 began to advance in style and creativity utilizing the streets and trains of New York as their canvas. Most of these all-stars were represented by the U.G.A. (United Graffiti Artists). The U.G.A. was the first group that attempted to make the transition from subway yard to gallery walls. The U.G.A. was a cross-section of the most famous artists of that time, their exhibition at the Razor Gallery in Soho was what gave graffiti its first taste of commercialism (Futura). I believe the more complex forms of graffiti developed by such artists contained distinct artistic elements and can be considered art, while the beginning forms of graffiti, such as Tags, do not contain these elements and should not be referred to as 'art'.With the discovery of spray-paint by writers, new and more colorful styles emerged, starting...

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