Happy New Year of the Tiger! We found some on the street this week in New York, no surprise perhaps.
In other news, OG train writer Chris “Daze” Ellis captured the attention of The New York Times this Friday with his new contemporary art show “Give it All You Got” at P·P·O·W Gallery, and in a related story, according to the New York Daily News, there were 120 graffiti-related incidents on subway trains in January 2021, a 21% increase compared to the same period last year.
The differences between the 1970s/80s and today, as it pertains to graffiti and street art, are vast; Phillips auction house has an exhibition of graffiti artists that we estimate to be valued well into the millions, author/critic Carol Diehl is on a tour promoting her book “Banksy Completed” (MIT Press) which argues that we all complete his works, BSA has officially opened a new library with Martha Cooper at Urban Nation (Berlin) dedicated to being the penultimate resource for academic research and literature related to graffiti and street art around the world, street artist Shepard Fairey just sold out a 7,400 piece generative NFT art project on OpenSea, and 1970s/80s artists/graffiti writers like Futura and Zephr are being interviewed by iconic cultural critic Carlo McCormick at the Wexner Museum.
In his curatorial incarnation, Carlo has been organizing an enormous new exhibition about New York’s ‘downtown’ scene that he’s curating with Peter Eleey to open this July at UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing featuring “several defining works of this generation, such as paintings and drawings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.” McCormick, you will remember, originated the concept and title for his book Trespass : a History of Uncommissioned Urban Art, which made the direct connection between fine art, the avant-garde, and the various street/public art practices of serious radical art movements like those popularized in the 1960’s by Guy Debord and the Situationistes Intérnationales. With these movements and arguments informing our view, it’s simplistic to be so polarized when assessing the value given/damage done by illegal graffiti writers and street artists.
Today our public/private debates about whether someone’s aerosol creation is vandalism or art are far more complex, more palpable than before. Thanks to the validation of graffiti and street art as a cultural force by fashion designers, toy manufacturers, home goods stores, clothing chains, commercial brands, film directors, art collectors, auction houses, artists, writers, professors, and respected education and art institutions, these practices of art-making on the street are enmeshed in the culture, fully a part of it.
One of these days a train car covered with graffiti will head to the yards for buffing… and reappear at an art fair, a Sotheby’s auction, or in the back yard of an avid collector. Our thoughts turn to the “Fun Gallery” refrigerator covered with graffiti tags in that is currently on display at the Phillips “Graffiti” show on Park Avenue right now.
And so we turn to our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring: Billye Merrill, BK Foxx, Crash, DrewOne, Elle, Eraquario, Eskae, Jenkins2D, Lamour Supreme, MAD, Manuel Alejandro, Osiris Rain, Praxis, REDS, Sipros, The Creator, The DRIF, and Twice.