Lessons in Street Art, There's More to It Than Banksy
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The name Banksy has become synonymous with the recent street art movement, but as Interior Designer Maria Brito explains, this form of self expression has been around for decades. While there's no denying that the elusive Banksy helped put street art on the map over the past few years, the movement has been a mainstay in popular culture since the 60s.
Once upon a time, society saw graffiti as deviant behavior by misfits looking to destroy public property, but street art (as it's now referred to) has grown to be a creative outlet, finally making art accessible to everyone. Maria Brito, an avid art enthusiasts and collector, has made it her mission to bring art to the people. So I couldn't think of anyone better suited to give us a little education on the street art movement.
Can you describe the "Street Art" movement, where it started, who were the pioneers, and where it is now?
Graffiti, as unsolicited marking of public property, has been around forever, as you can imagine. However, the 60s were quite important for street art, particularly in NYC (Washington Heights seems to be where the movement, as we know it, started). At that time, street artists began to use nicknames and/or symbols when they finished writing or painting the walls. This phenomenon was called "Tagging." For example, Keith Haring "tagged" a lot of subway cars and walls with his most common symbol, which is the radiant baby.
If the 60s marked the beginning of the street art movement, as we know it, it was in the 70s and the 80s where we saw its consolidation. Jean-Michel Basquiat (one of my absolute favorite artists of all times), Keith Haring, Futura (2000), Blade, Crash, Lady Pink and many of the most famous street artists in the world started "tagging" walls in the 1970s in NYC. All these artists transitioned from the street to galleries and museums by being invited to have shows around the world.
Who are the hot street artists emerging in today's market? In NY, in LA? Internationally?
The 90s and 2000s have seen a much more refined (but still raw) and elaborately technical form of street art, not only in NYC, but around the world. Among my favorites are: Miss Van (French, but living in Barcelona), FAILE (Canadian-American collective living in NYC), Os Gemeos (twin brothers from Sao Paulo), Banksy (London), Barry McGee (San Francisco), Kenny Scharf (Los Angeles), Mint & Serf (NYC), and Nick Walker (London). I believe one of the coolest things about street artists is that they never stop tagging the walls; they still love to work outdoors, whether it's commissioned or illegal (yes, at least in NYC, unsolicited graffiti in public property is against the law).
I truly love them all and find them super hot, but my favorites are Os Gemeos and FAILE. Street Art can be a political outcry, a joke, a complaint or simply the idea of being irreverent and rebellious "just because." The art market is hot in this area because of the amount of artists who have been invited to major museums to participate in collective exhibits, and also because street art has made its way - quite strongly - in auction houses.
Right now, "Art in the Streets" is on exhibit at the MOCA in Los Angeles. Jeff Deitch, the director of the MOCA and former owner of Deitch Projects in NYC, has always been very much into street art and has promoted, in any ways he can, the movement and the artists. In NYC, Kathy Grayson, the owner of The Hole and former director of Deitch Projects, continues working with artists and putting together shows that are aligned with this goal.
How can readers collect or incorporate Street Art or art in general into their homes?
Street art, when transitioned to the living room, comes either in a canvas, a wood panel, a sculpture or an edition. In short, any medium or form as we usually know it in the contemporary art world. Street artists have, as I said before, made their way into the world of "fine art," offering collectors a piece of their genius in the same way any other contemporary artist would. Obviously, the connection must exist for the collector so that the piece finds true meaning anywhere it's placed. I don't recommend mixing periods or starting a collection without professional guidance or a lot of research.
Are there any books on it?
Books on each artist are out there, as well as catalogs from previous shows, which I consider to be one of the best ways to learn and understand the ideas and feelings that motivated the creation of each piece of art.
Maria Brito is an Interior Designer and CEO of Lifestyling by Maria Gabriel Brito, a company that offers a unique approach to interior design by incorporating art into every interior, taking decorating to a new level. She recently launched LivinArt, "The Art of Living with Art," a new service that combines personalized interior design and art curation services, customized to introduce art into the interior design process. To learn more about Maria Brito, visit her site at Mariabrito.com.
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