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Weekly Highlights: March 23 – 29

  • Graffiti History
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March 30, 2015

There are two things I like to talk about when it comes to forms of creative expression. And, I say “creative expression,” since that is the most “innocent” way of describing somebody’s “art.” Before this gets too confusing, let me brake it down for you: the first instance concerns breakthroughs in the world of art, it concerns the ways in which extraordinary individuals and/or groups transform public discourses through meaningful (as in rich in meaning, not simply “purposeful”) practices; on the other hand, we have those sparks of showmanship, which get confused with everything mentioned in the previous instance. I have no intention to talk about some big divide, let alone (re)start a-couple-century-long discussion on “fine” versus “popular” art. No. I just find it exciting to look toward the horizon of symbolic production of meaning within our globalized community in order to recognize what will survive and what will fall of the edge of significance. It’s just my simple way of dealing with the increasing presence of hype within the art world… And, you know what? It just so happens that I can enjoy these two things when looking at your favorite posts from last week.

When it comes to Street Art, I feel as though I am part of some big secret. I feel that I understand the entire culture, yet there is so much hidden in plain sight. This is the reason why we had decided to revisit the rich history of Street Art. We wanted to see when did the graffiti movement transform into subculture, and what does today’s Street Art mean in terms of this… In this regard, your interest in significant moments as well as our breakdown of the history of the movement brings indispensable input to editorial team. However, here’s where interest and devotion blur the lines of what is truly important when it comes to understanding and appreciating art. We seem to inevitably find ourselves in that grey area between appreciation and hype. Again, we were infatuated with a piece of news which concerns Banksy. It seems there is no escaping this collective hypnosis (if you want to know why, check out our feature O Banksy, Wherefore Art Thou Banksy?).

The nature of hype slapped me in the face even harder when I realized that a big part of our followers focused on a guy who dips his dick into paint and generally just shows off his body… After our exciting journey through time, exploring the intricate fabric that is the culture of Street Art, I have to say, this shocked me… And I know, sex sells, beautiful bodies sell, colorful characters sell… But, we are here because of art, not just any “creative expression…”

And that’s when you, dear readers, turned it all around. It is not all about some guy’s dick. It’s about provocative art such as The HUFO Project or Cynthia Westwood. It is about meaningful expression (again, potent in meaning!). If we are to understand and appreciate Contemporary Art, can’t we just try to distinguish hype from an expression that exists in order to shake the core of our understanding of beauty? It is too much to ask and too much to achieve – but, we have to at least try, right?

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Important Moments in Graffiti History

Graffiti history, a topic rich in subject matter with colorful characters and even more colorful artworks, that continues to unfold. Where to begin when looking for 10 important moments from graffiti history? Everyone will have their own point of view when it comes to graffiti history, but there are some defining moments that most people will agree on, such as Cornbread being responsible for the birth of the graffiti scene and all that has followed since, evolving into the flourishing urban and street art scene we are now witness to. Widewalls has recently been looking at graffiti history in a number of feature articles, 20th Century & the Rise of Graffiti looked into the origins of graffiti and how it developed in the last century. Street Art & Music: Who Likes What? took a look at the relationships between street artists and music while the Food, Sleep, Sex & Revenge article took a brief look at how street art vandalism has transformed into an acceptable art form. Picking 10 important moments from graffiti history is no easy task, but here we present a selection for you to muse over and argue about, a brief reminder of some of the important steps that graffiti has made since Cornbread scrawled his name all over Philadelphia, through to David Choe becoming the richest graffiti artist in modern times. Have a look at our selection of 10 important moments in graffiti history.

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Graffiti and the 21st Century

As graffiti hit the 21st century the scene seemed to explode, particularly with urban and street artists that had begun their graffiti journey back in the 1990’s. At the end of the 20th Century & the Rise of Graffiti article we mentioned two street artists, who changed the face of street art as we know it. The first was American Shepard Fairey who made his first moves as far back at 1989 with his Andre the Giant has a Possee sticker campaign that eventually evolved into the OBEY face that has become his trademark image. But it was during the 2000’s that his reputation grew, creating a series of iconic street images including the infamous Barack Obama HOPE image in 2008. Catch up with the 25th Anniversary of OBEY article to see the lasting legacy.

Over in the UK, Banksy was creating free hand graffiti in Bristol during the early 1990’s, part of the underground scene with street artists such as Nick Walker, Inkie and 3D. A turn to stencil art as graffiti hit the 21st century, saw a surge of interest and the rest, as they say, is history, the world going crazy over every Banksy move, highlighted in our recent news article, I Am Not Banksy: Arrest and Lawsuit.

For more on this, be sure to check out our article Graffiti Hits the 21st Century.

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I am not Banksy!

There is never a dull day when it comes to news and the renowned graffiti and street artist legend that is Banksy. The New York Post have just released details of a lawsuit by Brooklyn resident Richard Pfieffer, who it appears was arrested in July 2014 and accused of being the notorious street artist. The furore over the identity of Banksy can sometimes reach comedic proportions, with reports of arrests, hoax arrests and a string of names associated with the mysterious legend of graffiti. Banksy of course emerged recently from a quiet period, with new graffiti artworks in Gaza, which you can read about in our New Banksy Work in Gaza and the news that a 1998 work, created on a travelers trailer with seminal graffiti artist Inkie, will be up for auction later in the year with an estimated price of between £300,000 – £400,000, see more in Banksy’s Silent Majority Goes Under The Hammer. Read more in I am not Banksy: Arrest and Lawsuit.

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Hollow Eroticism or Art

Milo Moire used her vagina to paint a canvas in a live nude performance almost a year ago. Now, a guy named Brent Ray Fraser appears to have applied a new purpose to his genitals too – he paints with his penis. This Canadian artist has been creating paintings as wide as twelve feet using his god-given paintbrush since 2009. On the other hand, staying on the topic of male genitalia, an Italian artist is protesting male circumcision by creating foreskin sculptures to raise awareness about the procedure’s negative impact. Vincenzo Aiello’s project, titled HUFO: The Missing Link (short for HUman FOreskin) represents a rather big silicon resin foreskin framed by metal circle and square a la Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. The piece calls for an end of a practice encouraged by social norms that influences a man’s life in a bad way, and the artist has been carefully studying the matter before proceeding with the project after undergoing the procedure himself. Find out more in our article Creativity in Erection.

It’s never a dull moment when you are up to date with Contemporary and Urban Art! Sign up for My Widewalls and never miss out on exciting artists and their practices!

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Cynthia Westwood’s Art

Do you find it unusual that in our Provoke! Section we present works by a female artist? You shouldn’t. Art that can be connected with erotica is not reserved exclusively for male artists. It would be quite chauvinistic to expect that naked women are subject-matters only in male artists’ works. We have written many articles about extraordinary female artists (in our Top 10 Section we wrote about the popular contemporary female sculptors and photographers, as well as about female collectors). Cynthia Westwood is an amazing painter and artist and she is best known for her extraordinary oil paintings of naked women taking a bath. Check out the entire article Cynthia Westwood: Representation of Female Body.