Is graffiti art? Or vandalism? – Kelly Wall

Is graffiti art? Or vandalism? – Kelly Wall


Spray-painted subway cars, tagged bridges, mural-covered walls. Graffiti pops up boldly
throughout our cities. It can make statements about identity,
art, empowerment, and politics, while simultaneously being associated
with destruction. And, it turns out, it’s nothing new. Graffiti, or the act of writing
or scribbling on public property, has been around for thousands of years. And across that span of time, it’s raised the same questions
we debate now: Is it art? Is it vandalism? In the 1st century BCE, Romans regularly
inscribed messages on public walls, while oceans away, Mayans were prolifically scratching
drawings onto their surfaces. And it wasn’t always a subversive act. In Pompeii, ordinary citizens regularly
marked public walls with magic spells, prose about unrequited love, political campaign slogans, and even messages to champion
their favorite gladiators. Some, including the Greek
philosopher Plutarch, pushed back, deeming graffiti ridiculous and pointless. But it wasn’t until the 5th century that the roots of the modern concept
of vandalism were planted. At that time, a barbaric tribe
known as the Vandals swept through Rome, pillaging and destroying the city. But it wasn’t until centuries later that
the term vandalism was actually coined in an outcry against the defacing of art
during the French Revolution. And as graffiti became
increasingly associated with deliberate rebellion
and provocativeness, it took on its vandalist label. That’s part of the reason why, today,
many graffiti artists stay underground. Some assume alternate identities
to avoid retribution, while others do so to establish
comradery and make claim to territory. Beginning with the tags of the 1960s, a novel overlap of celebrity and anonymity hit the streets of New York City
and Philadelphia. Taggers used coded labels to trace
their movements around cities while often alluding to their origins. And the very illegality of graffiti-making
that forced it into the shadows also added to its intrigue
and growing base of followers. The question of space and ownership
is central to graffiti’s history. Its contemporary evolution has gone
hand in hand with counterculture scenes. While these movements raised their
anti-establishment voices, graffiti artists likewise challenged
established boundaries of public property. They reclaimed subway cars, billboards, and even once went so far as to paint
an elephant in the city zoo. Political movements, too, have used wall writing
to visually spread their messages. During World War II, both the Nazi Party
and resistance groups covered walls with propaganda. And the Berlin Wall’s one-sided graffiti can be seen as a striking symbol
of repression versus relatively
unrestricted public access. As the counterculture movements associated with graffiti
become mainstream, does graffiti, too, become accepted? Since the creation of so-called
graffiti unions in the 1970s and the admission of select graffiti
artists into art galleries a decade later, graffiti has straddled the line between
being outside and inside the mainstream. And the appropriation of graffiti styles
by marketers and typographers has made this definition
even more unclear. The once unlikely partnerships
of graffiti artists with traditional museums and brands, have brought these artists
out of the underground and into the spotlight. Although graffiti
is linked to destruction, it’s also a medium of unrestricted
artistic expression. Today, the debate about the boundary between defacing
and beautifying continues. Meanwhile, graffiti artists challenge
common consensus about the value of art and the degree to which any space
can be owned. Whether spraying, scrawling,
or scratching, graffiti brings these questions
of ownership, art, and acceptability to the surface.

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39 Replies to “Is graffiti art? Or vandalism? – Kelly Wall”

  1. I have just started filming some of the best street art walks in Europe on our youtube channel – there's no ad's or agenda – like this TED talk, just an appreciation. So thanks I really enjoyed the video and have subscribed.

  2. It's only vandalism if it's not done by the group of people who work for the establishment called Banksey. But if you're poor then you're committing an illegal act.

  3. it's funny since they don't know what there talking about that's literally the wiki page of graffiti not from there actual interest it's not ownership or destruction some people don't call it art it's based on the person the identity

  4. As SEEN godfather of Graffiti said, graffiti writing has nothing to do with hip hop, same is my thinking cause in Greece i started graffiti writing back at 1984 when hip hop did not exist in my country!

  5. An anonymous person, vadalizing private property, to force others into proximity with their opinion that they are not intelligent enough to disceminat legally. It could be a strong possibility that what a graffiti writer writes is in all likelihood useless, why else would a person have to resort to such a method.

  6. Graffiti is diffrent from vandalism both is freedom of expression one is out of spread of love and emotions one is just hate

  7. Graffiti and street art are not at all the same, sure they both use paint and do it on walls and stuff, but thats like saying a chef is the same as a knife killer, they both use knives right so they are the same thing.

  8. Was expecting Kelly Wall to be mega mad about graffiti. All those walls painted, she doesn’t want her to be as well or something idk.

  9. I like graffiti art its beautiful😍👍 i like art like that im a artist who likes art and i enjoy art but my problem is im going to ask myself this question if i like art like that does that me im a gangster nooooooooooooooooooo i just like the art for fun and like doing it but i only do my art on paper that's for me just because i like it doesn't make me nothing yes i can say theres people that don't understand when it comes to this because your just a normal regular person who loves art

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