Some thoughts on Urban Art

Urban Art developed from the Graffiti Scene of the 70s, when it was a communicating tool to mark boundaries of minority youth groups in NYC and moved from simple messages to social issues. They used this means to comment on social issues or merely make statements. It was something illegal and underground. Billboards and advertising bombard the public – the artists in their turn started to use public spaces for their own messages in graffiti writings.

  Wall-final2    Vers-graffiti-mural-Brooklyn-nyc

Berlin Wall and Graffiti on wall in Brooklyn NYC.

With the development of new techniques and hand in hand with subcultures in the music and dance scene, the artwork developed into a certain lifestyle of irreverence, grass-roots democracy and freedom. The streets and walls carry the art, not galleries and the establishment. With time, new techniques, mixed media, stencils, charcoal, paint, collage, airbrushing and wheatpasting, a new sense of aestethics and the fact that art students and other artists were also discovering the walls as their canvas, kickstarted a post graffiti development. Today, urban art which developed out of graffiti has stepped out of the underground and is seen as a mainstream global art movement represented in museums, galleries and younger markets. It is commercially used by advertising agencies to reach a younger, modern consumer market, by property developers as an instrument for urban regeneration and by city marketers to encourage tourism. I discovered this film on showing how Lissabon used Street art to market their town in 2012.

It grew from a territorial into a worldwide movement. Creating the same image in different urban spaces in different cities became important. The artists travelled to other cities, where streets and walls were embellished. Repetition and accessibility either on the street or in internet became a defining feature.

nina-pandolfo-paints-street-art-mural-nyc  Nina-Pandolfo-Other-Way-To-art-galleryNina Pandolfo from Brazil in NYC. Her work: Other way to Art. Image Kind courtesy of      accessed 11.12.2015


Street-Art-by-Clet-Abraham-in-London-EnglandClet Abraham, a French Vinyl sticker Artist in London. Image Kind courtesy of accessed 11.12.2015

He creates the most collectible road signs, especially No Entry signs. Some local governments commission him to create, others condemned his girlfriend to four months imprisonment! I especially fell for the above sign, especially in the context of the bilingual street names: English and Hindi. He certainly has a sense of humour. He doesn’t destroy the signs but pastes a cutout on it in a matter of seconds. Image Kind courtesy of

hush-street-art-mural Urbanart2 HUSH HUSH’s  work is very Gallery affine and „beautifies“ many a modern Apartment. His Geishas with the mark making seem to address the marks the street artists make over each other’s work.  Images courtesy of and accessed 11.12.2015

herakut muenchenHerakut’s work (in Munich), still maintains the griminess  and urgency of early street art and carry a strong political message.   The duo, Hera and Akut have projects running in the refugee camps in Jordan, Gaza etc. Image Kind courtesy of Herakut is showing until Christmas at the Tollwood Festival in Munich represented by the MUCA Gallery. Herakut will also be holding a childrens painting session there before Christmas.

aboveAbove’s (a californian in Berlin) stencil work also seems to carry a message.  Wonder if the beggar always sat there. Since 2001 he selffinances annual round the world trips exploring a new place and new mediums or styles. He has painted in over 90 cities and 60 countries. Image Kind courtesy of accessed 11.12.2015

Under-Der-Hand-Street-Art-by-CASE-Maclaim-in-Berlin-1024x682Andreas von Chrzanowski alias Case going vertical. A comissioned work. Case is represented by  an Urban Art Gallery in Munich, so I have seen quite a bit of his work. He works photorealistically depicting the human Body and  loves to paint hands using spray cans. He is the founding member of the Graffiti Group Ma’claim together with Akut and Rusk. and introduced photorealismus in the Graffiti Scene.  I looked at utube and discovered this short film: which was quite interesting. Image Kind courtesy of accessed 11.12.2015

feature3  In-London-England-UK-youre_never_too_young_to_dream_big-600x450Image 1. Banksy in Chinatown, Boston. May 2011. Image2) could be Banksy or not, as he doesnt sign his work.  source: accessed 11.12.2015. I somehow like stencilled work with text.

In Munich we have  the annual Stroke Air Fair where sprayers and graffiti artists can be seen at work, street artists working on their hugh vertical billboards,knitters clothing street signs and tree trunks  in colourful warming Jumpers, tape artists creating interesting work on light boxes among other urban artists.

Deadlineartfestival-2015-05-18-um-16_45_55-1024x617  ART-AVENUE-44-FLAVORS

1)Deadline Art Festival, 2015, Munich in the slaughter factory area. Source:  accessed 11.12.2105    2) 44flavours,

deadline3 20153) Horst and Jeroo at Deadline. accessed 11.12.2015

Seen at the Deadline, Munich.

I  often visit the Gallery MUCA (Munich Urban and Contemporary Art)in Munich at their Gallery openings. This Gallery has specialised in urban art showing Case, Herakut, Fairey and quite a few others, so I have even met the artists, as long as they have come out into the open. It is interesting to see their diversity and the high standard of most of their work. It has less to do with the Graffiti of early times.

I am not a fan of the early Graffiti, as some time ago, a walk in the night through areas like Lower East Side or Berlin Kreuzberg was accompanied  with a feeling of apprehension, as graffiti usually marked off rougher areas. But I like the stencilled work with text messages, the likes of Banksy, alias and above. Hush’s work is almost too beautified and looks like advertising billboards, but would nevertheless look „pretty“ in a modern apartment. If I was collecting, I would go for the stencilled work with a message. At the last Stroke Art Fair in Munich I saw them stencilled on old wood flooring. It would be interesting to get hold of a few stencils and use them on a painted landscape. Imagine cutting out stencils of eg: The Girl with the Pearl Earring, The Dutch Milkmaid pouring out the milk and some other recognisable figures of Art History and stencilling them onto a modern context, a modern interior. There is something tongue in cheek about some of the work and I find Urban Art interesting as it is easily accessible and makes one stop and smile or stop and think.

Somebody said:“Art for the masses is nothing but demagogy“ (sorry can’t remember who), but I find that resentment toward a given culture is to be found where there is dissatisfaction with the establishment or a feeling of exclusion. I am glad that the artists  vented this dissatisfaction on artistic terms to be read by any and everyone so that the viewers can reflect on the message being conveyed, thus partaking in a new movement which addresses issues of today. But I also have the feeling that the grit and punch of the messages are gradually fading, as „when everybody is a revolutionary, the revolution is over“.


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