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Analyzing the Role of Graffiti Art

Going back to its Italian roots, graffiti is a form of artwork that is painted on walls and other surfaces that are visible to the public. It has recently become popular due to the rise of hip-hop culture, particularly in New York City's subway stations. It's a rebellious expression of an unacknowledged culture, with a wild and rebellious style that is starkly different from the traditional art of the upper class. Graffiti is a thrilling expression of protest that brings life to the city.

History of Graffiti Art

Graffiti is, at its core, simply writing, drawing, or painting on the walls or other surfaces of buildings. While some may look at this art form as modern, it dates back thousands of years - with some of the earliest beings in the Lascaux caves of France. 

These drawings likely had a purpose - some experts think they were made to honor a successful hunt, and others suggest they could have been part of rituals meant to increase a hunter's luck. It's really exciting to think that graffiti is an art form that was around even in prehistoric times!

For thousands of years, these paintings have been around, revealing the wonder of ancient art. In the past, the Romans used to carve their artwork onto walls and other memorial sites. Unlike modern graffiti, these paintings showcased words of love, political statements, and other meaningful ideas.

The well-known city of Pompeii had its share of graffiti, and one of them even talked about a breach! There is also a famous inscription of someone called Novel Primigenial, who was known for her controversial capabilities. It appears that she was so popular that someone wanted to commemorate her skills with undiminished dedication.

Graffiti in World War II 

Let's take a jump in time from the distant past to more recent history. Graffiti has been around for eons, and it has changed through the ages. During World War II, troops would inscribe words on all kinds of surfaces to demonstrate their presence, often accompanied by little illustrations, like a mini person appearing above the text. It was a method of connecting with later generations and feeling like they were being watched. Does this ring any bells?
This goal is a large part of modern graffiti, which is mostly intended to leave a mark in as many places as possible.

After the end of WWII, graffiti began to spread rapidly, particularly in the United States. In the 1960s, graffiti artists started to paint phrases, inspired by the growing fame of hip-hop music. Their artworks can be found on the walls of buildings, bridges and even subways. Then, aerosol cans enabled graffiti painters to leave their mark on almost any surface. With the influence of rock music, a new wave of graffiti art took off. It was an exciting time!

As these works of art moved across the planet, they developed in their way. Before long, two French graffiti artists created processes to spray graffiti on templates. Everywhere from New York to Sydney, Australia, one could find these spray-painted designs. 

Graffiti has been a source of contention, and it's easy to understand why - these artists painted on public and private property without permission and some were even arrested for it.

The increasing reputation of graffiti transformed it into a form of activist art, and various graffiti subgenres stretched from America to the Far East. This art became a prominent part of revolutionary movements, with political demonstrations often containing protest graffiti.

Graffiti in the 21st century: what now?

Over the years, graffiti has evolved from ancient art to a commemoration of soldiers' battles too, presently, an artistic outlet for everything. Many parts of the world have accepted its cultural influence, leading to renowned graffiti artists covering every inch of their location for a price. Additionally, other people use graffiti as a way to liven up neighborhoods without charging any fees. To ensure their art lasts, graffiti artists make use of designing software to plan out their illustrations and words before spraying the artwork on everything.

Graffiti has become a quintessential element of the urban milieu, from benches in parks to subways, monuments, sculptures, and bathrooms. It is an expression of an entire culture born in the Bronx of New York, where resources are scarce and it is not acknowledged by the art world. Consequently, its presence is found on the walls of the city, displaying a non-conventional and informal side. Excitingly, it is a form of ghetto art that is now a part of the cityscape.


Artistic analysis of Graffiti

Graffiti is a form of artistic expression that is rejected by many, yet seen as a powerful form of protest and expression by some. It is a type of 'guerilla warfare' which uses public space to express a personal style, as well as a statement about power. It is also seen as a form of anarchist protest against civic art which is accepted by cultural discourse. In a time of over-planning and the prevalence of images in the media, graffiti provides an outlet for art that challenges traditional norms and regulations.

We can trace the origins of this art form back to the dawn of humankind. Through a three-stage development, it has evolved. First, ancient man created cave paintings that depicted the world around them. Secondly, the written word was added to the murals, and the representation progressed from merely visible objects to symbols and drawings which illustrated sound and emotion. Finally, in the 1970s, graffiti became composed of words that were presented as images. This is called 'tagging' and is usually a pseudonym known only to a select few. It's truly amazing to witness how art has grown and developed over time!

The code names create a framework of anonymity that provides artists with freedom of action and the ability to express whatever comes to mind. This is the desire to transfer the artistic statement from the closed bourgeois space of the museum to the open space of the street, which everyone experiences.

Graffiti is an age-old form of art, which has been documented since the days of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. For example, the graffiti paintings that have been found in Pompeii date back to the Roman era. Nonetheless, the modern history of graffiti was likely initiated with Giacomo Balla's work, Bankruptcy, from 1902. Through his vibrant scribble, Balla portrayed the harshness of capitalism on the door of a shuttered shop. Excitingly, this marked the start of the modern graffiti movement.

A noteworthy moment is the pen mark Marcel Duchamp inscribed on a postcard of the celebrated portrayal of the Mona Lisa. Duchamp contests the idea of art being superior, implying the sexual ambiguity of Leonardo da Vinci (and himself); He desecrated and dishonored the iconic picture by adorning it with graffiti in the form of a mustache (Dali fashion) and a small goatee, which was quite exciting.

An attitude of joyful transgression, targeted at the Seventh Bourgeois Center, eventually evolves into an even more daring and agonizing stance. This occurs when graffiti and automatic writing from the school of Surrealism, with its proclivity for surprise, betting and chance, join forces. The impact can be seen in the artworks of Jackson Pollock (Untitled, 1956, ink on paper), among other Expressionist painters. Later, Jean Dubuffet (The Lost Passenger, 1956) is observed using the graffiti technique to signify the sorrowful desolation of the post-Auschwitz landscape.

It's essential to understand the roots of graffiti in black culture and hip-hop in America when we talk about its pivotal role. The government was unsympathetic and equated it to vandalism, which resulted in the authorities going all out to apprehend these graffiti artists and imprison them. This was a major blow to the burgeoning hip-hop culture, in addition to the upper class's desire for neatness and stability.

Later, graffiti received artistic recognition from the establishment, but this marked the beginning of its decline as a subversive and critical art. The rise in popularity of hip-hop culture among urban communities in the United States beckoned businessmen and large companies, who adopted hip-hop as a means of sales promotion. Rap songs began to sell shoes and fashion products, Hollywood movies dealt with graffiti and their creators became cultural heroes. The mechanism of recognition neutered the subversive meaning underlying the intense passion bubbling beneath the surface. It became fake and lacked sting and was assimilated into the super-system of the economy.

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