Historical Item

The Feral Digram of Graffiti and Street Art

Theorist Daniel Feral rewrites art history, using the language of MoMA’s first director.

BY KELSEY CAMPBELL-DOLLAGHAN2 for Fast Company

In the annals of “Fine Art History,” graffiti is usually placed squarely outside of the mainstream dialogue. Usually, it’s relegated to a foggy category sometimes called Urban Art–or worse, Urban Contemporary. “Those are not terms that came from the graffiti or street communities,” says writer and theorist Daniel Feral. “They may be a result of categories created by the auction houses. I usually hear the terms used when discussing sales of art.”

Feral is the creator of the eponymous Feral Diagram, a map that revises the role of graffiti and street art in the canon of modern art. From Feral’s perspective, graffiti and street art have been critical drivers of the art world for well nigh 40 years now. Framing them as “outsider art” is not only lazy, but incorrect. As an alternative, Feral has literally redrawn art history, showing how 1960s graffiti and street art emerged from major mainstream movements, from Pop Art and the Situationists to 1940s Art Brut. By way of looping arrows and signs, he also demonstrates how street art evolved, conceptually, alongside the likes of Gordon Matta-Clark and Jenny Holzer. And thankfully, Feral also parses out the boilerplate-in-their-own-right terms, “graffiti and street art,” into specific groups and movements, like Wildstyle and Otaku-tinged Childstyle.

What’s clever about the Feral Diagram is that it utilizes the visual language of another very famous diagram, created by the first director of MoMA, Alfred H. Barr, in 1935. In his visualization, Barr used looping black arrows and Futura type to explain how Cubism and Abstract Art evolved from a mixture of high art and pop culture influences, ranging from Japanese prints to the Neo-Impressionists. “I wanted to honor Barr’s intellectual brilliance,” Feral writes. “By utilizing his visual language to tell a story other than that sanctioned by the Fine Art establishment, it made me feel like I was subverting the system too. It made me feel like I was doing what my friends were doing: reclaiming public space.”

Street Art - On Canvas, in Galleries, for auction, in the Streets?

What Qualifies as Street Art?
Justin Kamp, for artsy.net
Jan 11, 2021 12:43pm
photo: An early 2000s Swoon paste-up on a San Francisco public wall

The ascent of so-called street artists into the moneyed realms of the blue chip is not exactly a new phenomenon—it’s been nearly two years since KAWS skyrocketed to a new auction record of HK$116 million (US$14.8 million) with the sale of The Kaws Album (2005) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, which was followed six months later by the record-breaking sale of Banksy’s Devolved Parliament (2009) for £9.8 million ($12.1 million). These two mononym artists could be seen as the loosely defined category’s twin princes, despite their stylistic differences—KAWS’s vibrant cartoon riffs and Banksy’s wry stencils are two of the most easily recognizable, not to mention consistently lucrative, styles in contemporary art. But as collectors the world over continue to be fascinated with “Companion” figures and Girl With Balloon prints, the exact parameters of what constitutes “street art” remain nebulous.

According to Charlotte Raybaud, head of 20th-century evening sales at Phillips in Hong Kong, the category comes with a certain amount of ambiguity baked in. “Street art is inherently hard to define,” Raybaud said. “It is difficult to categorize as sometimes it can feature graffiti, or other times more image-based work. The former oftentimes features alongside the latter, but I would say some uniting elements include the use of stencils and/or elements of reproduction, allusions to and questioning of everyday visuals or slogans, and of course its ‘street’ setting—or indeed proximity to its roots.” When highlighting street art works for potential bidders, Raybaud said she emphasizes both the above aesthetic elements as well as a piece’s conceptual underpinnings, which she said often center on themes of democratization.

12,500 year old rock art discovered in Amazonian rainforest

Photograph: Marie-Claire Thomas/Wild Blue Media'Sistine Chapel of the ancients' rock art discovered in remote Amazon forest
Tens of thousands of ice age paintings across a cliff face shed light on people and animals from 12,500 years ago

Dalya Alberge, The Guardian (LINK)
Sun 29 Nov 2020 10.00 GMT
Photo: Marie-Claire Thomas/Wild Blue Media

One of the world’s largest collections of prehistoric rock art has been discovered in the Amazonian rainforest.

Hailed as “the Sistine Chapel of the ancients”, archaeologists have found tens of thousands of paintings of animals and humans created up to 12,500 years ago across cliff faces that stretch across nearly eight miles in Colombia.

Their date is based partly on their depictions of now-extinct ice age animals, such as the mastodon, a prehistoric relative of the elephant that hasn’t roamed South America for at least 12,000 years. There are also images of the palaeolama, an extinct camelid, as well as giant sloths and ice age horses.

These animals were all seen and painted by some of the very first humans ever to reach the Amazon. Their pictures give a glimpse into a lost, ancient civilisation. Such is the sheer scale of paintings that they will take generations to study.

The discovery was made last year, but has been kept secret until now as it was filmed for a major Channel 4 series to be screened in December: Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon.

The site is in the Serranía de la Lindosa where, along with the Chiribiquete national park, other rock art had been found. The documentary’s presenter, Ella Al-Shamahi, an archaeologist and explorer, told the Observer: “The new site is so new, they haven’t even given it a name yet.”

Historical Graffiti Anti-Evil Spells


Medieval Graffiti to Repel Witches and Evil Spirits Found In Britain
21 OCTOBER, 2020 - 17:52 ED WHELAN
LINK

In Britain, a mysterious discovery has been made in the ruins of a church in an abandoned medieval village. On some stones, archaeologists have found graffiti and some enigmatic marking. It is believed that the markings were made to ward off evil spirits or witches. This discovery is a timely one as we approach Halloween.

Currently, there is a major infrastructure project being carried out in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, England. It involves the construction of rail lines and a highway. This project will totally destroy a long-abandoned medieval village. ‘The deserted village site stands among fields half a mile south of today's Stoke Mandeville’, according to the Buckingham Archaeological Society . Archaeologists from Fusion JV are currently working to excavate as much of the village as they can.

Deserted medieval village
The focus of their work is on the ruins of the 12 th-century church of St Mary’s now little more than rubble. This was demolished many centuries ago, however, archaeologists were stunned to find beneath a heap of stones, the walls and floors of the place of worship. Andrew Harris, a manager with Fusion JV stated that ‘The levels of preservation of some of the features of the church are surprising given its age’ reports the HS2 Media Centre .

On the stones, of the demolished church they have found some graffiti. They have also discovered some curious markings. According to The Bucks Herald , ‘Two stones with a central drilled hole from which a series of lines radiate in a circle have been uncovered at the site of St Mary’s’. These engravings were of great interest to the team of archaeologists.

Witches marks or medieval graffiti?
One possibility was that the markings are medieval sundials that were used to tell the time and indicate the time for mass and prayers to the faithful. However, the engravings were found on a stone that was close to the ground. This would seem to indicate that they were not sundials.

Minimal Man Stencils in Early-80s San Francisco

Echoes Are All I See
By marcella faustini, for Art Practical
September 10, 2015

“No one lives but me, shadows are my only friends, and ghosts are all I see.”
                                       —Minimal Man, “Loneliness,” from The Shroud Of, 1981.

Despite the gentrifying pressure of high real-estate prices, the history of San Francisco’s underground culture and some of its notorious characters still haunts the city. Such is the case with Minimal Man, an early ’80s band fronted by Patrick Miller. The band, with a blend of post-punk, noise, and industrial music, produced six albums and numerous singles with a rotating cast of members.  Although its output remains semi-obscure, the band has a cult following among enthusiasts of genre-bending music. Great interest is also derived from Miller’s erratic life, which took him to a handful of cities in the United States and Europe, leaving a trail of stories that are recounted and mythologized as part of the subculture of the cities he inhabited.

The documentation of the band’s existence while in San Francisco is scattered. Between previously published articles, phone calls, and email exchanges with members from different incarnations of the band, a semblance of the band’s trajectory can be pieced together.

Minimal Man’s sound is often grouped with industrial music and bands like Chrome, Suicide, and NON, although Miller claimed to have eschewed style categories when making the music. His musical premise was to rely upon synthesizers rather than guitars for the sound.

The first album, The Shroud Of (1981), sounds as if someone is singing from a far room. The lyrics touch on uneasy subjects such as alienation and despair, and the combination of synths and noise creates an ominous atmosphere. The music’s influences of punk and noise gave way to industrial sounds and hints of electronic body music (EBM, a danceable combination of postindustrial music and synth-punk); this last development came about during Miller’s time in Belgium, where EBM first developed.

The course of the band’s musical development is uneven. There are backward nods to arena rock in Safari (1984) and a disparate choice of more conventional instruments for Hunger is All She Has Ever Known (1988). But Minimal Man reached its highest point when it
merged noise, industrial, punk, and cold wave, creating dark and powerful moments conducive to solitary dancing with shut eyes and clenched fists. Both The Shroud Of and Sex with God (1985) are examples of this successful intersection of musical styles.

1,400 Year Old Graffiti Found in UK

Britain’s Oldest Example of Christian Graffiti Found Near Hadrian’s Wall

By Alex Fox
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM
SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 11:45AM

Some 1,400 years ago, individuals living near Vindolanda, a Roman fort in northern England, inscribed a lead chalice with images of crosses, angels and other Christian symbols. Now, reports Dalya Alberge for the Guardian, archaeologists say that this vessel—unearthed during excavation of a ruined sixth-century church—represents the oldest known example of Christian graffiti ever found in Britain.

Recovered in 14 fragments, the chalice was once the size of a cereal bowl. Inscriptions adorn every inch of its surface, covering both its interior and exterior. Per a statement, symbols seen on the cup include a chi-rho (or monogram said to represent Jesus Christ), a happy bishop, ships, a congregation, a fish and a whale. Latin, Greek and potentially Ogam letters appear alongside the drawings.

Miniature Stenciled Art Rock found in AU

Rare Form of Miniature Stenciled Rock Art Found in Australia
New research suggests the small-scale illustrations may have been made with beeswax
By Alex Fox
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM
MAY 27, 2020

In 2017, researchers surveying the Yilbilinji rock shelter in northern Australia’s Limmen National Park discovered rare examples of miniature stenciled rock art. Now, a new study published in the journal Antiquity may unravel the secrets of these mysterious artworks’ creation. [Interestingly, in the new study, the researchers did not date the pigment to see when the miniature stencils were made. The only mention of dates is with the use of beeswax, as far back as the 1800s. - Stencil Archive]

Australia’s Aboriginal culture is renowned for its diverse rock art, which dates back thousands of years and includes an array of stenciled renderings. Such works were created by holding an object against a rock’s surface and spraying it with pigment to render its silhouette in negative space. Stenciled art often features life-size human body parts, animals, plants and objects like boomerangs, according to a statement.

Small-scale stencils posed an obvious logistical hurdle for ancient artists, as the tools had to be purpose-built for the artwork rather than drawn from an existing slate of objects.

“What makes these stencils at Yilbilinji so unique is that they are tiny, some measuring only centimeters across, and they are too small to have been made using body parts or full-sized objects,” lead author Liam Brady, an archaeologist at Flinders University, tells Henry Zwartz of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The trove is one of just three examples of miniature stenciled rock art identified to date. Per the statement, the other surviving specimens are found at Nielson’s Creek in Australia and Kisar Island in Indonesia.

Chilean Public Art Steps Up in Time of Revolution

The Writings on the City’s Walls: Street Art and Graffiti in Santiago, Chile in a Time of Social Revolution
FEBRUARY 17, 2020
Reporting: Street Art NYC (LINK)

The following post is by Houda Lazrak:

While visiting Santiago, Chile in late December, I sat down with Santiago-based architect and street art/graffiti expert Sebastián Cuevas Vergara. We met a few blocks from one of Santiago’s main urban landmarks, Plaza Baquedano, now known as Plaza de la Dignidad or Dignity Square — the main site of Chile’s protests against social inequality that erupted last October following a hike in subway fares.

Every Friday afternoon, thousands gather in Plaza de la Dignidad to express their frustration with the high cost of living, rising rents, government corruption and an unsustainable social welfare system. The walls in the vicinity are plastered with protest posters, tags, graffiti, wheatpastes and other varied urban interventions.

Sebastián shared some of his thoughts and observations about the current state of public space in Santiago:

So much has changed here since I last visited Chile in 2013. What are you up to at the moment?

I am currently teaching a street art class at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Chile. This a particularly pertinent moment to be talking about people’s relation to public space in view of all the street art that has surfaced since the social crisis started.

Yes, it does seem extremely relevant.

I have a thesis: Santiago is the city with the most diverse graffiti in the world at the moment. There is poetic graffiti, urban graffiti, feminist graffiti, political graffiti…

And so many posters too!

The languages of the streets are changing. When the protests started, designers started making posters: a simple, straightforward, immediate response. Posters and graphics have been part of Chilean identity since the 1970s, so this was quickly picked up again.

Is this happening mainly in the city center?

It is concentrated in the center of the city. This is where it has the most significance, near ‘zona cero’ where the protests surface every Friday.

How have the graffiti and street art changed in Santiago since the social revolution erupted?

There are several changes. First, many artists are no longer signing their works. The personal nature of graffiti is not of essence now. Artists are, instead, giving their art to the movement. This is particularly interesting, because the graffiti scene in Santiago is very competitive. Second, works are much larger in scale because artists are collaborating. Third, performance art is integrated into the protests and with the graffiti and street art. Finally, feminist street art is now at the forefront. The work of groups like the Chilean feminist collective LASTESIS has gone viral.

Banksy Collaborator Steve Lazarides Tells (Almost) All


'We were lawless!' Banksy's photographer reveals their scams and scrapes

Steve Lazarides was the art renegade’s strategist, photographer and minder. As his shots are published [in a self-published book], he recalls the politics, parties and soaring price tags of ‘Matey Boy’

Stuart Jeffries (The Guardian)
Mon 16 Dec 2019 12.54 GMTLast modified on Mon 16 Dec 2019 16.50 GMT

One Christmas, Steve Lazarides and Banksy [his Stencil Archive] decided to kill Santa. “Reject false icons,” read the slogan hastily spray painted across their shopfront, behind a highly festive effigy they had created of Father Christmas dangling from a noose. Dotted around were signs intended to lure passersby into their shop, in the hope that they would join in the party and buy some artworks. The signs, however, may have had the opposite effect. “Santa’s Ghetto,” read one. “Stinking art piss,” read another.

“There were a few complaints about what we did to Santa,” says Lazarides, once Banksy’s right-hand man. “And about the noise. We didn’t care. It was a group show we did every year, so artists could make a little dough and punters could pick up some affordable art for Christmas stockings.”

Lazarides worked with Banksy for 11 rollercoaster years, initially documenting the artist at work back in 1997, then becoming his agent, strategist and even minder. The Christmas art shop had been rented from one of Soho’s last porn barons – but disaster struck. Liquid leaked through from the floor above, soaking an impromptu chandelier made of traffic cones. “I went to investigate,” says Lazarides. “It was a toilet overflowing. The crowd at the party thought it was part of the show. It wasn’t. It was literally stinking art piss.”

The art he and Banksy sold at Santa’s Ghetto was certainly affordable back in the noughties – but it could not be classified as such today. Lazarides recalls carrying armfuls of original Banksy prints to the shop, where they’d shift for £25. “At today’s rates,” he says, “I reckon each armful would be worth about half a million quid.”

One work, called Bomb Middle England, depicted three elderly women playing bowls with balls that had lit fuses coming out of them. In 2007, Sotheby’s sold a version of this image for £102,000, at the time the most ever fetched for a Banksy. It has since been eclipsed, with the title now held by the 2009 painting Devolved Parliament, which went for £8.5m earlier this year.

While Lazarides is happily reminiscing about the Santas of Christmases past, Banksy is on the streets of Birmingham making art about the scandals of Christmas present – in the form of his mural and video of two reindeer pulling, not Santa in his sleigh, but a homeless man called Ryan lying on a bench in the city’s jewellery quarter.

A Lesson in Street Art, Part I

A Lesson in Street Art: how a movement morphed out of graffiti and into the art world (Part I)

By Katherine Keener Published on 9 December 2019 (art-critique.com)

PURPOSE OF THIS LESSON:
Street art is a relatively new movement that is becoming more and more prolific in the art world. In this lesson, we will explore the history of graffiti, which is what street art is born out of, and then explore how street art has become what it is today. Looking at the history of graffiti is critical to understand the nuances of graffiti vs. street art and to understanding the pros and cons of street art as a movement and how artists categorized as street artists have either embraced or responded to the movement. At the end of the lesson, students should have a better understanding of how graffiti paved the way for street art. They should also be able to think critically about an artwork to determine ways in which it is more kin to graffiti or street art.

This lesson is best geared towards secondary or high school level students. Here, we have presented the topic as an art history lesson but it could easily be adapted into a studio art lesson, too.

PART I: HOW GRAFFITI GOT TO THE 21ST CENTURY AND PAVED THE WAY FOR STREET ART

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Historical Item