Friday, August 28, 2009

Born in the Streets

Graffiti artists have taken over the Foundation Cartier in Paris, with brand new works covering the building's façade and the surrounding garden, and a massive retrospective exhibition filling the interior gallery. "Born in the Streets - Graffiti" explores the history of the artistic movement born in the streets of New York during the 1970's, and traces its rise as a means of artistic expression for young people across the planet. It's a welcome dose of recognition from the establishment that this essentially illegal activity has evolved into an important and influential contemporary art form. Lots of great old school and cutting edge work on display. The Foundation Cartier website is well worth exploring, and Design Boom has also got some great images up. On display in Paris until November 29.

Coincidentally, Chronicle Books has recently released their 25th anniversary edition of Henry Chalfant's seminal book, Subway Art as a gorgeous oversize hardcover with 70 never before published photos. Chalfant was the first photographer to follow graffiti artists through the streets of New York in the 1970's. He trailed behind the likes of graffiti legends DONDI, SKEME, SEEN and BLADE, capturing images of their ephemeral work on the sides of subway cars and in transit tunnels, exposing the embryonic hip-hop culture to the eyes of gallery goers and collectors for the first time. Subway Art is a key text in understanding the rise of graffiti as a world wide phenomenon.

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