Amazing Street Walls Graffiti
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Rock and roll graffiti is a significant sub genre. A famous graffito of the 20th century was the inscription in the London subway reading “Clapton is God”. The phrase was spray-painted by an admirer on a wall in an Islington Underground station in the autumn of 1967. The graffiti was captured in a photograph, in which a dog is urinating on the wall.
Graffiti also became associated with the anti-establishment punk rock movement beginning in the 1970s. Bands such as Black Flag and Crass (and their followers) widely stenciled their names and logos, while many punk night clubs, squats and hangouts are famous for their graffiti. In the late 1980s the upside down Martini glass that was the tag for punk band Missing Foundation was the most ubiquitous graffito in lower Manhattan, and copied by hard core punk fans throughout the U.S. and West Germany.
Along similar lines was the legend “Frodo Lives”, referring to the protagonist of The Lord of the Rings.
Spread of graffiti culture
In 1979, graffiti artist Lee Quinones and Fab 5 Freddy were given a gallery opening in Rome by art dealer Claudio Bruni. For many outside of New York, it was their first encounter with the art form. Fab 5 Freddy’s friendship with Debbie Harry influenced Blondie’s single “Rapture” (Chrysalis, 1981), the video of which featured Jean-Michel Basquiat of the SAMO© Graffiti, and offered many their first glimpse of a depiction of elements of graffiti in hip hop culture.
More important here was Charlie Ahearn’s independently released fiction film Wild Style (Wild Style, 1982), and the early PBS documentary Style Wars (1983). Hit songs such as “The Message” and “Planet Rock” and their accompanying music videos (both 1982) contributed to a growing interest outside New York in all aspects of hip hop.Style Wars depicted not only famous graffiti artists such as Skeme, Dondi, MinOne and Zephyr, but also reinforced graffiti’s role within New York’s emerging hip hop culture by incorporating famous early break dancing groups such as Rock Steady Crew into the film which also features a solely rap soundtrack. Style Wars is still recognized as the most prolific film representation of what was going on within the young hip hop culture of the early 1980s.
Fab 5 Freddy and Futura 2000 took hip hop graffiti to Paris and London as part of the New York City Rap Tour in 1983. Hollywood also paid attention, consulting writers like PHASE 2 as it depicted the culture and gave it international exposure in movies like Beat Street (Orion, 1984).
This period also saw the emergence of the new stencil graffiti genre. Some of the first examples were created ca 1981 by graffiti artist Blek le Rat in Paris; by 1985 stencils had appeared in other cities including New York City, Sydney and Melbourne, where they were documented by American photographer Charles Gatewood and Australian photographer Rennie Ellis.
Graffiti as a memorial
People often leave their traces in wet cement or concrete. This type of graffiti often commemorates the mutual commitment of a couple, or simply records a person’s presence at a particular moment. Often this type of graffiti is dated and is left untouched for decades, offering a look into local historical minutiae.
Commercialization and entrance into mainstream pop culture
An example of crossover between video game culture and graffiti culture found on the Berlin Wall
With the popularity and legitimization of graffiti has come a level of commercialization or graffiti for hire. In 2001, computer giant IBM launched an advertising campaign in Chicago and San Francisco which involved people spray painting on sidewalks a peace symbol, a heart, and a penguin (Linux mascot), to represent “Peace, Love, and Linux.” However due to illegalities some of the “street artists” were arrested and charged with vandalism, and IBM was fined more than US$120,000 for punitive and clean-up costs.
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