Amazing Street Walls Graffiti
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Amazing graffiti on the street walls!
Graffiti (singular: graffito; the plural is used as a mass noun) is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property. Graffiti is any type of public markings that may appear in the forms of simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.
In modern times paint, particularly spray paint, and marker pens have become the most commonly used graffiti materials. In most countries, marking or painting property without the property owner’s consent is considered defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable crime.
Sometimes graffiti expresses social and political messages and a whole genre of artistic expression is based upon spray paint graffiti styles. To some, it is an art form worthy of display in galleries and exhibitions; to others it is merely vandalism.
Graffiti has evolved into a pop culture existence often related to underground hip hop music, b-boying, and a lifestyle that remains hidden from the general public. Graffiti can be used as a gang signal to mark territory or to serve as an indicator or “tag” for gang-related activity.
Controversies that surround graffiti continue to create disagreement amongst city officials/law enforcement and graffitists who wish to display and appreciate work in public locations. There are many different types and styles of graffiti and it is a rapidly developing artform whose value is highly contested, reviled by many authorities while also subject to protection, sometimes within the same jurisdiction.
Ancient graffiti, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem
Graffiti and graffito are from the Italian word graffiato (“scratched”). “Graffiti” is applied in art history to works of art produced by scratching a design into a surface. A related term is “graffito”, which involves scratching through one layer of pigment to reveal another beneath it. This technique was primarily used by potters who would glaze their wares and then scratch a design into it.
In ancient times graffiti was carved on walls with a sharp object, although sometimes chalk or coal were used. The word originates from Greek γράφειν — graphein — meaning “to write.”
The term graffiti referred to the inscriptions, figure drawings, etc., found on the walls of ancient sepulchers or ruins, as in the Catacombs of Rome or at Pompeii. Usage of the word has evolved to include any graphics applied to surfaces in a manner that constitutes vandalism.
The earliest forms of graffiti date back to 30,000 BCE in the form of prehistoric cave paintings and pictographs using tools such as animal bones and pigments. These illustrations were often placed in ceremonial and sacred locations inside of the caves. The images drawn on the walls showed scenes of animal wildlife and hunting expeditions in most circumstances. This form of graffiti is subject to disagreement[clarification needed Disagreement between whom and concerning what?] considering it is likely that members of prehistoric society endorsed the creation of these illustrations.
The only known source of the Safaitic language, a form of proto-Arabic, is from graffiti: inscriptions scratched on to the surface of rocks and boulders in the predominantly basalt desert of southern Syria, eastern Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia. Safaitic dates from the 1st century BCE to the 4th century CE.
The first known example of “modern style” graffiti survives in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey). Local guides say it is an advertisement for prostitution. Located near a mosaic and stone walkway, the graffiti shows a handprint that vaguely resembles a heart, along with a footprint and a number. This is believed to indicate that a brothel was nearby, with the handprint symbolizing payment.
The ancient Romans carved graffiti on walls and monuments, examples of which also survive in Egypt. Graffiti in the classical world had different connotations than it carries in today’s society concerning content. Ancient graffiti displayed phrases of love declarations, political rhetoric, and simple words of thought compared to today’s popular messages of social and political ideals The eruption of Vesuvius preserved graffiti in Pompeii, including Latin curses, magic spells, declarations of love, alphabets, political slogans and famous literary quotes, providing insight into ancient Roman street life.
One inscription gives the address of a woman named Novellia Primigenia of Nuceria, a prostitute, apparently of great beauty, whose services were much in demand. Another shows a phallus accompanied by the text, ‘mansueta tene’: “Handle with care”.
Disappointed love also found its way onto walls in antiquity:
Quisquis amat. veniat. Veneri volo frangere costas
fustibus et lumbos debilitare deae.
Si potest illa mihi tenerum pertundere pectus
quit ego non possim caput illae frangere fuste?
Whoever loves, go to hell. I want to break Venus’s ribs
with a club and deform her hips.
If she can break my tender heart
why can’t I hit her over the head?
-CIL IV, 1284.
Historic forms of graffiti have helped gain understanding into the lifestyles and languages of past cultures. Errors in spelling and grammar in this graffiti offer insight into the degree of literacy in Roman times and provide clues on the pronunciation of spoken Latin. Examples are CIL IV, 7838: Vettium Firmum aed quactiliar rog. Here, “qu” is pronounced “co.” The 83 pieces of graffiti found at CIL IV, 4706-85 are evidence of the ability to read and write at levels of society where literacy might not be expected. The graffiti appear on a peristyle which was being remodeled at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius by the architect Crescens. The graffiti was left by both the foreman and his workers.
The brothel at CIL VII, 12, 18-20 contains over 120 pieces of graffiti, some of which were the work of the prostitutes and their clients. The gladiatorial academy at CIL IV, 4397 was scrawled with graffiti left by the gladiator Celadus Crescens (Suspirium puellarum Celadus thraex: “Celadus the Thracian makes the girls sigh.”)
Another piece from Pompeii, written on a tavern wall about the owner of the establishment and his questionable wine:
Landlord, may your lies malign
Bring destruction on your head!
You yourself drink unmixed wine,
Water sell your guests instead.
It was not only the Greeks and Romans that produced graffiti: the Mayan site of Tikal in Guatemala also contains ancient examples. Viking graffiti survive in Rome and at Newgrange Mound in Ireland, and a Varangian scratched his name (Halvdan) in runes on a banister in the Hagia Sophia at Constantinople.These early forms of graffiti have contributed to the understanding of lifestyles and languages of past cultures.
Graffiti, known as Tacherons, were frequently scratched on Romanesque Scandinavian church walls.
When Renaissance artists such as Pinturicchio, Raphael, Michelangelo, Ghirlandaio or Filippino Lippi descended into the ruins of Nero’s Domus Aurea, they carved or painted their names and returned with the grottesche style of decoration. There are also examples of graffiti occurring in American history, such as Signature Rock, a national landmark along the Oregon Trail.
Later, French soldiers carved their names on monuments during the Napoleonic campaign of Egypt in the 1790s. Lord Byron’s survives on one of the columns of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion in Attica, Greece.
Engraving of Kilroy on the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C..
A soldier in Italy (1943–1944)
Graffiti is often seen as having become intertwined with hip hop culture and the myriad international styles derived from New York City Subway graffiti (see below). However, there are many other instances of notable graffiti this century. Graffiti has long appeared on railroad boxcars and subways.
The one with the longest history, dating back to the 1920s and continuing into the present day, is Texino. During World War II and for decades after, the phrase “Kilroy was here” with accompanying illustration was widespread throughout the world, due to its use by American troops and its filtering into American popular culture. Shortly after the death of Charlie Parker (nicknamed “Yardbird” or “Bird”), graffiti began appearing around New York with the words “Bird Lives”
The student protests and general strike of May 1968 saw Paris bedecked in revolutionary, anarchist, and situationist slogans such as L’ennui est contre-révolutionnaire (“Boredom is counterrevolutionary”) expressed in painted graffiti, poster art, and stencil art. In the U.S. at the time other political phrases (such as “Free Huey” about Black Panther Huey Newton) became briefly popular as graffiti in limited areas, only to be forgotten.
A popular graffito of the 1970s was the legend “Dick Nixon Before He Dicks You”, reflecting the hostility of the youth culture to that U.S. president.
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