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?
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