July 21, 2011

Art in the Streets

On my last trip to LA, I got to visit "Art in the Streets" at the Geffen Contemporary (an annex of the Museum of Contemporary Art). Obviously, street art and graffiti is a hugely loaded topic, and something that has been discussed ad nauseam in both popular culture and in the art circles that I run in, (see also: in art schools). Nonetheless, I found the Art in the Streets exhibit very interesting because it took street art out of its intended context and into a museum. It raised a lot of questions for me in terms of what is defined as art, and if a simple street tag, to a mural painting, to Stephen Sprouse's collaboration with Louis Vuitton can all be viewed on the same scale of artistic merit?

Art with a political and social message has long been my favorite - regardless of period, genre, or movement. I think that is by far what interests me most in street art and graffiti, but of course, not all graffiti is politically motivated, (though I have no interest in getting into the very tangential topics of urbanity or socio-economics just yet, however - how about the little urban cluster that MoCA built within the space?). How street art and graffiti acts and reacts within its space is what interests me the most - take, for example, Banksy's art bomb on the massive dividing wall at the West Bank. Street art alters spaces and creates dialogue, and frequently offers subversive critiques on dominant culture.

The truth is, I could probably write an entire graduate thesis on this topic, but I'm really curious in your opinions on street art and graffiti as art in a high brow context. What happens when you take street art out of context and commercialize it? Can this be regarded as appropriation? Do you have favorite street artists or graffiti artists?

You can view more of my photos from the exhibit here
Shot with 5DM2. 

Art in the Streets (up through August 8, 2011)
The Geffen Contemporary at MoCA
152 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012 
Admission: $10, $5 for Students
Art in the Streets exhibit catalog, Curated by Jeffrey Deitch


  1. This looks fantastic - I love the toilet stall piece!

  2. i am a principal of an academy of art, but ironically, i don't know anything about art (i am not an artist)! but i realized that fashion is a form of art too! they both can be extremely expensive, but at least i understand the value of a chanel bag but sometimes i don't understand the value of a painting! 

    you are so right about street art and dialogue! it is showing it to the world, because not everybody goes to musea! i think there is a graffiti artist that doesn't reveal his identity, his artwork is like insanely expensive (don't know the name). I don't like contemporary art that i don't understand and that is not pretty, there is no reason for me to like it! once i saw a dirty carpet hanging down the wall! i didn't get it, but i keep talking about it 

  3. I love these photos. You always have some awesome ones. This makes me miss when I used to travel places and see different historical sites and museums.


  4. I'm a huge fan of street art. One of my favorite cities in the world is Brussels because of the way that the Belgians recognize and showcase their history with comic art by having murals all over city painted by their best and most famous artists. It seems that America might be starting to think a bit more seriously about street art as a form of art instead as a criminal act, probably mostly in thanks to Exit Through the Gift Shop which has spurned this intense Banksy craze.

    Also, I love the pictures you took of this exhibit!

  5. I don't have any favorite street artists per se, but I do appreciate the genre of art as well as the dialogue that is created through it.  Much of the street art that I've seen around my city (Chicago) has always been a response to the political/social atmosphere of the current time as well as a testament to the history of Chicago.  

    Lovely photos and it looks like a wonderful exhibit.

  6. This is so freak'n awesome, I love all the shots in all their beauty!  I am a huge fan of street art, coming from NYC, when it's done right, it looks fab.

  7. ooh, i went to this. it was super cool.

  8. Ooops, I forgot to add that if you don't have www.urbanartcore.eu on your Google Reader, you are doing something wrong.

  9. Nicolette, you are so talented! These pictures are beautiful. ^_^

  10. Banksy has to be hands down my favorite! I love how his work speaks for him. His identity is of course a secret, but by looking at his work you can tell so much about him. It's competely brilliant.  

  11. Kaws is probably one of my favorite graffiti  artist after Fafi. I think he really shed's light on the American culture of consumerism
    and brand hoaring while at the same time bringing the viewer in with those recognizable items,animations.Fafi's work is also similar in the sense that the beautiful colors and petite cutely coiffed girls bring us in to love fafi aesthetically, but she really raises up a lot of feminist issues of "being slutty" verse "being ladylike" . So I think it definitely can be regarded as appropriation  to make the viewer aware.

  12. This show blew my mind. Just absolutely amazing.


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