The short history of Street Art

20.04.2017 - Il Castello Arte
 
As it may seems to be a bit strange considering our decision to display artworks of Pao, a street artist from Milan, we would like to acquaint you with the history of Street Art which, as we hope, will remove all doubts.
 
It's a fact, that for many art fans and art collectors still, Street Art is not art at all. But as times changes, thus the image of a street artist and Street Art itself changes as well, and what was not accetable an understandable in the past, now is acknowledged and appreciated not only by art lovers but also by the main establishment and respected authorities of the art world. 
 
So, what it is about anyway?
 
In the context of the beginnings, we cannot forget about the artwork of graffiti which its history is as old as history of humankind itself. Later on, by the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, street art has evolved into complex interdisciplinary forms of artistic expression. From graffiti, stencils, prints and murals, through large-scale paintings, to street installations, it is safe to say that today Street Art is a significant part of contemporary art. 
 
Graffiti, one of the earliest expressions of street art started showing up on the walls and cars in the 1920s and 1930s in New York, as the work of gangs. But the impact of this subversive culture was particulary marked in the 1970s and 1980s. These decades were a significant turning point in the history of street art. It was a time, when young people started creating a movement, which transformed into a subcultural phenomenon which contested at that time the social and political reality. Soon, an illegal activity, a process of creation through destruction, began its evolution into numerous forms of artistic expression which found way to galleries and the globart art market.
 
Today it's not only about graffiti, but still street art refers to socio-political activism as its members express their dissatisfaction with the current socio-political system through art in general. Street Art never gived up its rebellious position in front of popular culture and mass media reality. It was always standing on the position of not those in power, but those who resisted. This is why street art gave birth to artists who create amazing murals and other creative aspects of 'the work on the streets'. From painted murals in Latin America in the early 20th century through Latino gangs spray-can graffiti in the 1950s, street art has traveled a long way to become what it is today. It has evolved into complex art form encompassing various practices. And it's without any doubts one of the most 'colorful' parts of today's art. 
 
Now, let's talk about the best places for street artists, let's see the world's 11 best cities for Street Art:
 
1. MEXICO CITY, Mexico
 
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The origins of the modern street art movement in Mexico City lie with the muralists of the 1920s, including Diego Rivera, who used their work to convey social messages. The 2012 All City Canvas festival enabled artists like Roa and El Mac to paint on some of the city’s most iconic buildings, such as the offices of El Universal, a major newspaper. And in recent years the city has begun working directly with street artists to use their talents to create images that improve and inspire, much like the muralists of the past.
 
2. LONDON, UK
 
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London’s dynamic street art scene got a big official boost in 2008, when the Tate Modern exhibited work by six renowned street artists from around the world. While artists like Banksy were putting up work on the street long before the museum’s recognition, an increased public awareness means that street art is permitted, lauded, and, in some cases, protected by plastic. One thing that hasn’t changed much? The best areas for appreciating street art remain in the East End.
 
3. ŁÓDŻ, Poland
 


Łódź isn’t the largest city in Poland. In fact, it isn’t even the second largest. So how did the country’s third largest city land on this list? Easy: it invited street artists to come and paint in safe, sanctioned circumstances, and they did. Since 2009, the Urban Forms Gallery has put up more than 20 giant murals in the center of the city, part of a permanent exhibition of street art. It’s truly art for the people.
 
4. NEW YORK CITY, USA
 
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From galleries in Chelsea to streets in Bushwick to warehouses in Hunts Point to apartments and houses in Astoria, New York City has the most diverse array of street art in the world. Stickers, stencils, wheatpastes, throw-ups, yarn bombings, posters, murals, LED displays and light projections, mosaic installations—if you can put it up on the street, you’ll find it somewhere in the five boroughs.
 
5. BUENOS AIRES, Argentina
 
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With the consent of property owners and the municipal government, street artists have transformed Buenos Aires into a kaleidoscopic outdoor gallery. In many cases, the art depicts Argentina’s political history, offering pointed commentary on current events. In other cases, however, you’ll find fantastical figures, cool characters, and realistic portraits of contemporary heroes. The city’s permissive attitude generally enables artists to be as detailed, as elaborate, and as thorough as they wish.    
 
6. LISBON, Portugal
 
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The Lisbon street art scene has undergone a recent expansion, thanks in part to Underdogs, a project to further “the establishment of connections, partnerships, and collaborative efforts between artists, cultural agents, and venues, while helping to bridge the gap between these and the public.” Naturally this goal requires lots of street art, and it’s on display both inside (in the affiliated Underdogs gallery) and outside.
 
7. MELBOURNE, Australia
 
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According to its official website, “The City of Melbourne recognises the importance of street art in contributing to a vibrant urban culture.” In 2004, the city held its first festival devoted to stencils, and for many years this Australian city was the go-to place for that type of street art. In addition to stencils, you’ll now find posters, wheatpastes, and more in the various lanes that comprise the city’s Central Business District, as well as in nearby suburbs.
 
8. LOS ANGELES, USA
 
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In 2011, the Museum of Contemporary Art hosted “Art in the Streets,” billing it as the “first major U.S. museum survey of graffiti and street art.” But the scene had been thriving long before, and continues to thrive years later. On billboards and in galleries, on the backs of street signs and along sidewalks, in public areas and on private property, street art appears throughout LA, an eclectic mix of pieces both big and small, legal and not.
 
9. BERLIN, Germany
 
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“Every wall is a challenge” reads a strip of the Berlin Wall. German and international artists first took up the challenge in 1961, when the wall was constructed, and haven’t stopped since. The East Side Gallery memorializes the pieces that once decorated the structure and offers newer work by contemporary street artists, while the nearby neighborhood of Kreuzberg boasts big, classic murals by Os Gemeos and Blu, among others. 
 
10. CAPE TOWN, South Africa  
 
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“Removing the greyness from the soul of the city is the job of artists, musicians, and poets,” writes Freddy Sam, a street artist affiliated with Cape Town, on his website. Certainly many of the pieces in this South African city heed this mandate, turning a drab wall into something worth looking at. Others, such as murals by Cape Town-based, internationally renowned Faith47, have a social or political bent or moral message, and are sometimes done in collaboration with local youth groups.   
 
11. SÃO PAULO, Brazil  
 
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For a long time, much of São Paulo’s street art was concentrated in the suburb of Vila Madalena, along a strip known as Batman's Alley. Now there’s MAAU, a city-approved open-air museum featuring murals by more than 60 artists. But the city offers plenty of other worthwhile street art for those willing to look on abandoned buildings, down side streets, and around less obvious places. On the other hand, it’s not hard to miss new work by Eduardo Kobra, who usually covers multistory buildings with his trademark multicolor style.
 
We can truly say, that today street art is the only type of art so international and recognizable not only by art fans but also by common people as well, as every city around the world has a thiving street art scene. Once criminalized, street art has become accepted not only by local communities but also by local goverments and business owners, who often see in street art an alternative way of exterior/interior design. Once being socially marginalised, today Street Art is a noticable part of the city life itself. 
 
I dare to say that we can sum up the whole idea of Street Art in just one sentence: It is colorful, extraordinary, shocking, politically and socially committed and thought-provoking. It is art.  
 
Marta Cielecka
 
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