What is street art?

We explain what street art is and how was the emergence of this artistic expression. Types of street art and their characteristics.

  1. What is street art?

When we talk about street art, urban art or street art , we refer to the informal techniques of artistic expression that occur in the street freely , sometimes even illegally, usually in large cities . It is a type of artistic intervention, of short life and that does not appear in museums.

This type of artistic expression includes both graffiti (famous as a form of anonymous protest), as templates or stencil ( stencil ) and a varied number of techniques and resources used to illustrate on walls and other urban surfaces , such as trains, advertisements advertising, etc.

Street art is handled in a thin border between aesthetic, political or social expression, with vandalism and other forms of illegal intervention of the public facade of cities. This is due to the fact that often, in their eagerness to make their message visible, street artists climb to elevated surfaces, intervene in urban markings or government announcements, cross the boundaries of private property and even, for some, are responsible for form of visual pollution . For that reason, street artists often hide their identity and use artistic pseudonyms.

Diatribas aside, this genre has been cultivated extensively by numerous street performers in the main cities of the West, but even world famous locations, such as a wall in Gaza , intervene in the conflictive Israeli Arab border.

Some of the most famous artists of this trend are the American Shepard Fairey (with his well-known slogan of “ obey ”), Space Invaders (whose name comes from a famous video game of the 80s), Blek le rat, or the mythical Bansky, whose Identity is unknown despite the world famous of its interventions.

  1. History of street art

The term street art arises in the mid-1990s, also under the name of Post-graffitti , to identify a series of heterogeneous and usually anonymous artistic expressions that began to flood the great cities of the West.

These techniques already existed as forms of protest or popular denunciation, in fact in the mid-60s the templates were already used in Paris. But from then on it begins to become the expression of a subculture.

Eventually the popularization of Post-graffiti in different cities led to the emergence of local groups and artists from each city , recognizable by their messages or their recurring characters. At present, many artists such as the British Banksy have achieved such recognition that they have been addressed in art books and even some of their pieces were exposed clandestinely.

  1. Types of street art

Graffiti - street art
Graffiti is the clandestine drawing or writing on the walls of a city.

If we classify street art based on its techniques, we will have the following categories:

  • Grafiti . The graffiti is the traditional “graffiti”, that is, the drawing or the clandestine writing on the city walls, only that in the case of urban art this graffiti is not simply a message of protest, but acquires a whole aesthetic sense : drawings, shapes, encrypted messages, etc.
  • Stencil . It works based on a plastic or paper template on which the silhouette of what you want to paint is trimmed, and then adhered to the wall before painting with paint . In this way elaborate forms are achieved and the text is combined with the image.
  • Posters . Printed on paper or other materials and glued to the walls, they remain long and allow several to be combined to form large figures.
  • Sculptures and other interventions . There are other more daring forms of street art that intervene in public roads, telephone booths or even tickets, combining sculpture with other graphic arts.
  1. Characteristics of street art

Street art, in general, is characterized by being:

  • Ephemera . In general, interventions of this type do not last long, as the walls are repainted and the surfaces cleaned by the maintenance of local governments . However, the photographs and footage of them remain.
  • Clandestine . The appearance of street works of art usually occurs during the night or early morning, so that people the next day stumble upon them, instead of seeing them occur. This gives them a surprise factor, but it is also because artists sometimes expose themselves to danger (when climbing on high surfaces, for example), or choose government property to intervene, which is not entirely lawful.
  • Almost anonymous . Although many of the interventions are signed with the pseudonym of the artist, many others are not. It is not always known who this or that street artist is in real life.
  • Extra- walls . As the name implies, street art is found on the street, in public transport, in everyday places, and not in museums or “controlled” art exhibitions. There is something challenging in street art .

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