Wednesday, December 3, 2008

History of Graffiti

The history of the underground art movement known by many names, most commonly termed graffiti begins in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the mid to late '60s and is rooted in the desire for writers and activists to make a bold statement and to mark territory. The 'writers' (the graffiti artists) who are credited with the first conscious, often violent signs of activism, were named CORNBREAD and COOL EARL. They wrote their names all over the city gaining attention from the community and local press. It is unclear whether this concept made its way to New York City via deliberate efforts or if was a spontaneous occurrence. Whatever the reason, the subways and trains of NYC soon were the pallet for graffiti artists to leave their mark on the landscape.
After a while there were so many people writing so much that writers needed a new way to gain fame. The first way was to make your tag unique. Many script and calligraphic styles were developed. Writers enhanced their tags with flourishes, stars and other designs. Some designs were strictly for visual appeal while others had meaning. For instance, crowns were used by writers who proclaimed themselves king

The next development was scale. Writers started to render their tags in larger scale. The standard nozzle width of a spray paint can is narrow so these larger tags while drawing more attention than a standard tag, did not have much visual weight. Writers began to increase the thickness of the letters and would also outline them with an additional color. Writers discovered that caps from other aerosol products could provide a larger width of spray.
I found these awesome examples on Rt 5, on my way home from school. In this last image, I used the sun just to the right of the car to my advantage. Rather than avoid the shot altogether, I've been trying to capture "sun spots" which, in some cases, are bold and clear. My new lens tends to catch sun spots much more than my old. I'm not sure why; however, in this case I didn't mind.


jvelez said...

These came out so great today! Where were they all taken? I just watched a show today on the Paris catacombs and there is a room that is covered with graffiti, but also some truly amazing art work...and it all sits there beneath the streets of Paris and few people even know about its existence. I love the way writers and artists portray their feelings, beliefs, and thoughts with color and shapes unique to each individual. Nice job!

linda said...

Love the images. I love graffiti, it is definitely an art form. Good idea for a post. Several years ago, one of the assigned topics at the photo club was graffiti.

trishalyn said...

I'm really curious as to where these works of art are located on Rt. 5. Do you mind sharing? Really enjoyed your images...and the history lesson behind them! Dave took a photograph of some interesting graffiti he found when he was in Europe last summer. That would make a good assignment for us. Great job, Steve!