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Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism? Essay

1353 words - 6 pages

Most people can distinguish between art and vandalism. However, graffiti takes special section of art. Graffiti has been has been around since the days of ancient Rome and Greece. People have been “tagging” for hundreds of years. However it was in the 1970’s and 80’s that the form of art was created. With the creation of hip hop, graffiti started becoming very popular, especially in African American communities such as the South Bronx. Graffiti is considered a visual form of hip hop, but perhaps it is not considered art because of its canvas. People “tag” on public buildings and subway cars. This is where the line between vandalism and art is drawn. The artist must decide on where to put their art and whether it is safe or not it its location.
Graffiti has evolved so much over the years. It went from gangs marking their territory to an expressive from of art. In the begging people where using markers and just singing their names on walls. Since then it has turned into forming full murals that tell stories using aerosol cans. Graffiti is also used as memorials for deceased hip hop and graffiti artist. Today graffiti is now a way to get a message out to the public.
When taggers of New York started their art it was for local fame. These artist tried tagging as many places as they can to gain recognition. Darryl McCray or “Cornbread” is claimed to be the first tagger. When he was in juvenile prison he would write his tag sign “Cornbread” all over the prison. He continued to tag outside of prison and it spread to New York City. It was until Taki 183 that this art form was brought to national recognition. On July 21, 1971, The New York Times, published an article on the front page of the paper titled “Taki 183” Spawns Pen Pals. The article talked about Taki 183’s tagging skills and spurred a movement in New York City. It articled spurred competitive vandalism in the city and tagging became more frequent. Young artist began to compete to receive the fame that Taki achieved by creating their own art and using his tag.
As hip hop gained more recognition so did graffiti. Artist Lee Quinones and Fab 5 Freddy were given an art gallery in Rome by art dealer Claudio Bruni at the Galleria LaMedusa. The gallery allowed people out New York City to see graffiti art. Lee Quinones and Fab 5 Freddy where part of the graffiti group The Fabulous 5. The group was known for panting the entire sides of New York City Subway cars. These men were considered “the bridge between uptown graffiti and early rap scene and the downtown art and punk music scene” (NYT). The group was of vital importance to the devolvement of graffiti as an art.
American cinema is also credited with the transformation of graffiti. Films like Style Wars and Wild style are two of the most famous graffiti films. Style Wars is a 1983 documentary on hip hop culture directed by Tony Silver. The film emphasizes heavily on graffiti art, but also bboying and...

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