Graffiti is the most controversial of art forms. Debate rages amongst the community as to whether graffiti is in fact art at all, or if it is simply vandalism. And the answer is not necessarily a simple one.
Graffiti has existed since prehistory, and is popular to this day, where people decorate public spaces as a means to make a political or social statement, to communicate self-identity, or to simply state that “I was here”. From its origins, it has traditionally been created outside the boundaries of the law.
Graffiti that is widely considered to be vandalism, including tagging, is that which is created with the intention of deliberately destroying or damaging property, either public or private. It is deemed to be incredibly self indulgent, and even within the graffiti community, tagging is widely considered to be a reductive art form that is frequently frowned upon.
Street art graffiti, on the other hand, makes a statement; says something profound or involves a more complex and artistic design. Street artists work hard to perfect their skills, spend time creating their works, and particularly when it’s created on a space with permission from the owner, it is considered to be as legitimate an art form as any other.
Take, for example, the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London: this space which showcases the finest modern art in the world has hosted numerous exhibitions of urban art, and graffiti of this kind enjoys immense popularity and success in galleries and designated outdoor canvases worldwide.
Quality street art reflects the spirit of the community in which it is created – and some cities in the world, like Berlin and New York City, would not be the same without their extensive street art installations. By this definition, urban graffiti is indeed an art form.
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