Street art not graffiti
April 4, 2004 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Urban Haute Couture "is about street art and street art only. Since a couple of years ago there's a boom in street art. To be clear we're not talking about graffiti. We're talking about street art that is spraypaint/marker template based, stickers, posters and combinations of those. This new breed of street art, except for using the urban landscape as a medium, has actually nothing to do with graffiti." Cities include Berlin, Amsterdam and the Romanian Stencil Archive.
posted by vacapinta (16 comments total)
we're not talking about graffiti.

We're talking about graffiti, Adobe Illustrator, and a laser printer. But I like it the same. To be clear.
posted by the fire you left me at 10:55 AM on April 4, 2004

I have never seen street art like this - is it primarily a European phenomenon?
posted by jb at 1:12 PM on April 4, 2004

I like this very much; downloaded entire site.
posted by JohnR at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2004

thanks vacapinta, I will look for them next time when I go home.
Here is the direct link to Romanian Stencil Archive.

Some of them are interesting:
#38 (no left turn);
#39: GN8 is a standard sign for gas pipes
#7 means "change(d) our mind" in a sort of "un-think" kind a way (many young people say they hate "stupidity")
#15: "long live May 1th" (it has to be a joke, please!)
#16: I think "B 69 SEX" would rank higher in a license plate macho contest
#24: "Vlad the Impeller (Dracula for tourists) - President in 2004"

I think Romanian Stencil Archive has a selection of only good drawings, on the street you'll see worse.

What is the context for the other cities?

on preview: jb, they were not present in Bucharest few years ago (at least not in this form)
posted by MzB at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2004

I've recently seen street art like this in a few alleys in Columbia, Missouri. If it's in the midwest, it really has to be everywhere else in the US.
posted by zsazsa at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2004

The distinction between "street art" and "graffiti" is classist and bogus. Great images, though.
posted by squirrel at 2:36 PM on April 4, 2004

one of the best collections is that of banksy. there are a few good ones i've seen around cambridge MA, most notably the huge stephen fields [the obey giant guy] style ones in central square. can't find any photos on the web, though.
posted by ubersturm at 3:37 PM on April 4, 2004

er, "shepard fairey". i have no idea where "stephen fields" came from.
posted by ubersturm at 3:37 PM on April 4, 2004

Stencil Revolution is a great site for artists. They point to an update on the theft of one of Banksy's works.
posted by vacapinta at 3:57 PM on April 4, 2004

You should also check out Wooster Collective. A great starting point for street art. It's a great collection of all the artists out there.
posted by rodz at 4:02 PM on April 4, 2004

Squirrel: Indeed. This would be called graffiti by most, and this certainly is. Both come from the Amsterdam page at Urban Haute Couture.

I believe the distinction was invented to legitimize the practice, since graffiti is so often viewed as a symbol of urban decay and gang activity. The NYPD even has a special unit, the Anti-Graffiti Task Force dedicated to its erradication. Hence the invention of 'street art,' which ostensibly is protected free expression and therefore not a crime. The distinction is completely absurd in my opinion, and just reeks of cultural imperialism. Why are the spray paintings of one person 'street art' and the spray paintings of another 'graffiti'? Because its political? Because its informed by modernist or abstract motifs? Because its done by a college-educated white guy? Sorry I had to go there, but isn't that what this is all about? Isn't 'intellectual' graffiti still graffiti?

I am generally in favor of this; I think it adds diversity, interest, and locallity to increasingly homogenous urban sprawls. Expecially considering that most of it is done over bare concrete walls and advertising posters. I think it also represents a very positive trend in taking personal responsibility for one's aesthetic environment. If polititians refuse to invest in revitalizing and beautifying cities, then these guerilla artisits can and do take it upon themselves. For example, Neck Face, apparently the latest outsider art sensation.
posted by ChasFile at 4:11 PM on April 4, 2004

Well said, ChasFile. Having spent a lot of time in the areas of SFO and AMS, I can contest that the average level of the street writer does not reach this level of virtuosity. However, many, such as Twist, broke barriers no one had dreamed of before, and they did it as outsiders. I don't see that there's much difference between graffiti and street art. Except maybe a paycheck and all that comes with it.
posted by squirrel at 5:23 PM on April 4, 2004

Where's troutfishing? He could put this into perspective.
posted by squirrel at 5:25 PM on April 4, 2004

Troutfishing must have been out late last night bombing and tagging in the east end.

Nice link, vacapinta. I love this stuff, though I prefer to call it "urban graphic vernacular." < removes tongue from cheek >

Some other cities chock full of "street art"(scroll down a bit) include Barcelona (where the denizens seem to embrace it), London, Paris, Budapest, and of course Tokyo. Like zsazsa, I've also come across it in small towns in the US and abroad.

see also: sticker nation
posted by shoepal at 6:31 PM on April 4, 2004

When I lived in Los Angeles 12 years ago, I found myself somewhat awed by the art I'd find on the streets -- I'd always assumed that graffiti was an ugly self shout-out imposed on the rest of society, but I was surprised to find it impressive. Some of the smarter business owners were already, by that time, hiring urban artworkers to do their buildings. The taggers never touched those places.

For a long time after I moved back home, I would doodle my own imitations of the street art and dream of putting a tagger's font collection together.
posted by weston at 10:07 PM on April 4, 2004

squirrel> The distinction between "street art" and
squirrel>"graffiti" is classist and bogus. Great images,

For some perspective on the art side of street art. Check out publicadcampaign
I've emailed this guy about how de does his stuff. He makes himself as the guerilla style of old skewl. Sneak into a place that's ruled by the commercial and governmental forces of oppression and make them "see" art. ya know.

graffiti artists certainly share the rebellion, but not for the same recognition.

BTW, great quick time in that site.
posted by xtian at 8:03 PM on April 5, 2004

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