Do we know when street art actually began? It’s difficult to pin point, but “urban art” or “street art” had its humble beginnings in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Artists, such as John Fekner, Blek le Rat, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and others come to mind. There are literally thousands of urban and street artists from around the world.
One of the most famous street artist known today is Banksy. This anonymous street artist has become an urban legend in his own right. Banksy is not only a street artist, but also a film maker, director and painter. His film Exit Through the Gift Shop was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Film after its first premier at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010.
Banksy’s anonymity was chronicled in October 2013, when he descended on New York City for a 31 day show called Better Out than In. Here, he anonymously produced 31 works , every day, without getting caught by the NYPD, who were actively trying to arrest him after Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared him a city vandal. On day 11 of his month-long feature, Banksy unveiled his now famous moving lamb puppet feature in a silent attempt to boycott the slaughter of lamb in the meat-packing district of New York City.
By this time, Banksy had already secured his fame after Christina Aguilera bought an original of Queen Victoria as a lesbian and two prints for £25,000 and a set of Kate Moss paintings sold in Sotheby’s London for £50,400, setting an auction record for his work. On day 13, during his tour in New York City, Banksy set up a surprise street booth selling his canvas prints for $60 anonymously. The BBC estimated the art pieces to be worth up to $31,000.
“The six silk-screen prints, featuring the model painted in the style of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe pictures, sold for five times their estimated value. His stencil of a green Mona Lisa with real paint dripping from her eyes sold for £57,600 at the same auction. In December, journalist Max Foster coined the phrase, “the Banksy effect,” to illustrate how interest in other street artists was growing on the back of Banksy’s success.” (Wikipedia)
Banksy often paints his creations at night in obscure alleys and walkways. He is often on bicycle or foot and carries with him his tools of art in a back pack. He uses stencils and spray paint with chalk for most of his creations. Here is a selected video of Banksy in action creating a Banksy original in just a few minutes.
You can find out more about the elusive artist at his website.
If you would like to see my earlier post on some GIF artists who have used Banksy’s work in their work, see my post Animated GIF Art: A Feature of Three Modern, Visual Artists.
Unfortunately, not all street artists can attain such fame and fortune. Many great works are only visualized temporarily. Some street art is removed, others are destroyed along with its corresponding building. In other urban environments, street ‘vandals’ will destroy the art in an ironic twist, since some street art is already considered vandalism. This is where the Google Street Art Project comes in.
Google Street Art Project
In this collaborative project, you can “Map the Walls” and discover an evolving collection of street art from across the globe. This is an interactive map that shows a number of street artists, their locations and even a glossary of the artist names and projects. For example, you can click on the country, than city, the location and ‘discover’ the various street artists. Clicking on the various artists will take you to the Google Cultural Institute where some street art exhibits are stored and featured.
Another feature in this project is called “Get Inside”. This uses google street view to highlight iconic street art spaces that may disappear. You can also watch video segments of various street art projects called “Listen to the Streets” which uses YouTube and google hang out to see behind the scenes work on various street art projects.
Google also features immersive images to get really up close to various works of art through digital imagery with high-definition detail of the works. Many of the street artists are also linked to this site through Google Plus, so you can link these artists in your circles and discover new and future projects.
The project also asks users to be a “spotter” and join the street art spotting community. For example, if you see a new street art mural and anything related to street art, you can first do a search to see if it has been featured. If not, you can use #streetartproject to share your finds and make street art live on forever.
Now, I’d like to feature a few artists who I particularly like and a few bloggers who have made it their passion to document street art.
David Zinn is a modern street artist who has been creating street art in Ann Arbor, Michigan since the 1987. David’s street art is unique. Unlike stencils and paint, David uses sidewalk ‘chalk’ , charcoal and found objects for all of his projects. Of course, as we know from giving street chalk to our kids, it will quickly disappear in the first rain or even most dewy of nights.
He has a WordPress blog that features much of his work. His main characters is Slugo, a green slug with stalked eyes often found in many of his chalk creations. He also features a flying pig and cute little mice in his creations.
He has a book that showcases many of his street art creations called Lost & Unfounded – Street art by David Zinn. Unfortunately, at this writing, it is sold out, however I’m sure many of his other projects will be featured in upcoming editions. You can also see the post in Create Michigan for an interview and more information on David Zinn.
The Spadina Monologues
This WordPress blog is by Christine Estima. Although Christine is a writer, she has chronicled many street art projects on her blog. What’s even more impressive, is her street art short film collection on her YouTube channel Cestima. In her latest film, she has a montage of featured artists including Banksy, Roa, Invader, Phlegm, Stik, Mobstr, C215, Paul Don Smith, Curtis Kulig, JR and the Inside Out Project, James Cochrane (Jimmy C), Alo, Fred Le Chevalier, Shok 1, and many more! It’s also set to some pretty cool music, so check it out.
Graffiti Lux and Murals
Resa McConaghy is a photographer and she has made it her passion to photograph, showcase and document graffiti art and murals from around Toronto and Winnipeg. More recently, she has ventured out to North America and has documented over 525 murals and graffiti art and has more than 400 to still post and feature!
She has also documented many murals and graffiti works that are now gone in her section entitled RIP. From her about page she says, “Taking these pics is a passion and a joy. Each work of graffiti art or mural evokes thoughts in me, and these thoughts are reflected in the titles of my Posts. Some of these pieces may already have been named by the artists. If I know the original name, I will name it so. If I know the name of the artist, I will credit them under the photograph and/or in the body of the post.”
Enjoy these featured Blogs.
You can view my other featured blog picks here at Freshly Featured, enjoy!