Street Art, Vandalism or Art?

Earlier today I visited a street art exhibition in the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry. It was a new experience for me as I have never seen street art being promoted and portrayed in a gallery before; only before have I seen it on the street, painted on walls or on the sides of busses. Before today, and before I researched the history of street art I just believed that it was just graffiti and random scribblings over people’s property.

Bellow is a collection of photos I took of some of the art in the gallery. I particularly like the piece with the persons face covering the nose bleed. The pink blood exceeded the boundaries of the wall and continued onto the floor. This modernistic approach to art showed me how street art is different to common art which is just displayed on canvas.

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Street art is rebellious, that’s for sure, but it is also modern and different. That is why I like it. It’s young, new art and ties in with youth sub-cultures. It allows individuals to express themselves through their own imagination and convey their personal views on specific issues and ideas. It is this point which raises the debate, ‘Is it Vandalism or Art’? Is it respected and seen as something entertaining? Is it accepted within the wider community? Should it be sold in galleries? Some argue that that would depend on the individual and their artistic ability and their social/political views. For example, Banksy. Some of his work has started to sell at auction and he is known as a celebrity figure within the street art society.

A piece by Banksy.

The conflict of public/private space has induced argument; where the art is done, for example, on the wall of a school may be a dig at the education system? In some respects, it could be perceived as anti-capitalist; fighting against government policy. Would it be fair to say the removal of the some of the art is, in a way, suppressing the creativity of the individual and going against free speech? Or is it required to put a stop to the rebellious culture of it all, to no longer allow it to interfere with the lives of others?

This form of art is encouraged in some places, for example Melbourne, Australia, where the the majority of the local community supports this new approach to art.

In my opinion, street art should aim to entertain, impress, leave an impression and express individual views on specific issues. It should be beautiful to look at but also be controversial and modern, and raise debate; it should contain a specific issue or theme, which at a glance may not be initially noticeable, until focused upon further. It should not be sold at auction or be in galleries, it should remain as “street” art and remain there, where it was born. Street art is supposed to be non-profitable. After all, has the art lost meaning when it is taken out of context? Surely being in a gallery means it is no longer street art?

I found this particular video of street art taken from Channel 4. I have previously posted this in my blog, but as it is so interesting and has a connection with this post, here it is again.

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