Well, really, the headline here isn’t entirely accurate. The artist and collector Martin Wong saved the seeds of a culture, and then donated his collection the Museum of the City of New York. And then the museum mostly kept those seeds hidden away for about twenty years. But now the museum, with the help of curator Sean Corcoran and others, has brought those seeds back into the spotlight for a new generation to learn from. Of course, I’m talking about City as Canvas, the new show at the Museum of the City of New York, and the seeds I’m talking about are the seeds of modern graffiti.
The back story behind City as Canvas is pretty great. Wong, a painter who lived in NYC’s East Village in the 80’s, was noticing graffiti and as he met some of the men and women behind it, he began supporting the young writers by buying their work. Eventually, that turned into a major collection of work by New York train writers like Sharp, Daze, Lee, Futura and many more. Wong even tried to open his own “Museum of American Graffiti” in 1989, but it didn’t work out. Still, Wong had amassed something special and unique that captured a very important time period for graffiti as artists transitioned from trains to canvases and teenagers to adults, and as graffiti itself spread from New York City to the rest of the world. Eventually, he donated his collection to the Museum of the City of New York. Those are the basics, but really, the story of Wong’s collection has already been told very well and in more detail in the New York Times, so do check out that article.
Damn. It’s almost May! Sorry this is so late but it’s worth the wait. March was another action packed month in Melbourne.
Starting off with Baby Guerrilla‘s show in Footscray. Baby Guerrilla’s paste ups have been adorning Melbourne’s walls for a few years now, and they are some of my favourites, her gallery work was new for me and I loved seeing a different side of the artist.
Adnate was 1 of 3 Melbourne graffiti/street artists that entered the renowned Archibald prize. From the Archibald website “The Archibald Prize is awarded annually to the best portrait, ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’.” It’s great to see some more modern painting techniques making it into this more conventional competition. Adnate painted a portrait of Samantha Harris; an Australian indigenous model. Also make sure you check out the video by Michael Danischewski below.
Bit of a shorter link-o-rama this week. I’ve been with my parents in Colorado, trying to get some work done on my upcoming book. The hope is that Viral Art will be released for free online in mid-June. There’s still a fair bit of work left to do though. Anyway, the links…
Paul Insect and Sweet Toof have been getting up around London. It looks like his time spent with Bast while in NYC recently may have influenced him a bit, as some of Paul Insect’s work is in a more naive style reminiscent of Bast or Haring that I don’t think I’ve seen from him before. Looks good.
Shepard Fairey released some prints using diamond dust, which is quite interesting. As the press release says, “Perhaps most famously used by Andy Warhol, who understood perfectly how to convey a message, Diamond Dust was used to add glamour, transforming ordinary images into coveted objects. The material aligns with Shepard’s work and interest in the seduction of advertising and consumerism. Diamond Dust, literally and metaphorically is superficial, applied to the surface of the print, the luminous effect is both beautiful and alluring.” But it’s one of those things that just gets me thinking about how the art world, much like capitalism, seems so good at absorbing critique and spitting at back out as product. People love the meaningless OBEY icon, so Shepard sells it. Shepard needs to make more product to continue selling to this market he has created, so he takes an old design (or a slight variant, I’m not positive), and adds meaningless diamond dust to it and sells it as something new. The best critiques participate in the system which they critique, but that’s a risky game to play. Of course, I say all this with a print by Shepard hanging on my wall.
OldWalls is a project where the photographer took photos of graffiti in the early 1990’s and recently returned to those spots to take the exact same shots, and then each matching photo is displayed next to its counterpart.
This work from Aakash Nihalani was done during Nuart earlier this fall, and I love it. It’s simple and site specific. Remember, always practice good placement. If you do that, you don’t have to paint 7 stories tall just to catch people’s attention.
V1 Gallery in Denmark celebrates its 10th year with Tonight We Won’t Be Bored; a massive show of 100 new works by artists like André, Kenny Scharff, Futura, Faile, Lydia Fong (aka Barry McGee), Barbara Kruger, Shepard Fairey, Steve Powers, Todd James, Andrew Schoultz, Thomas Campbell, Erik Parker, André, Neckface, Eine, Wes Lang, Clayton Brothers, and many others. The show opened on November 30th and runs through January 12th.
The Copenhagen gallery got its start in 2002, in a space which had formerly been used as a bakery. With their first exhibition being with Faile, they got the ball rolling pretty quick. By 2007 they moved to a larger space and later started curating shows and participating in art fairs around the world.
Graffuturism have curated a show which is due to open next month in LA. The extensive line up includes Delta, Mare139, Doze Green, DVS1, Eric Haze, Jaz, Futura, Greg Lamarche, Kenor, Sowat, and others.
This weekend Bring Back The Boadwalks is holding a benefit art auction to raise money to help rebuild the Rockaways and Coney Island, two communities were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. The silent auction will have work from some major names including Futura, Swoon, Phil Frost, Faile, David Ellis, Shepard Fairey, and Dennis McNett, and 100% of the proceeds from the auction will go to recovery efforts.
The auction will take place this Saturday, November 17th, at Trais Gallery at 76 Wooster Street (between Broome and Spring) in Manhattan.
What is Sever trying to say with this piece? Honestly, I am confused. That Twist head in particular looks really well painted, but the actual meaning of the piece is unclear. Is he taking a shot at street art in general? If so, Vandalog readers know that I would be ready to listen and probably even laugh. But I’m just not sure what the joke is, or if Sever is making a joke at all. Maybe I’m an idiot and the meaning of this piece is apparent to everyone but me (maybe even because it’s aimed at bloggers like me), but I have some questions…
Did Sever intend this as a diss to all street art or just contemporary street art, and what does he think of the artists whose logos he included? Does he like them and just dislike the latest street art? Does he dislike all street art? Is this piece is street art itself? Does Sever do street art now too? If so, what does that mean? Is this not a diss about street art at all but rather just a bunch of iconic images mashed up together because such a piece would obviously go viral? Is street art dead?
I’m curious to hear what, if anything, Sever will say about this piece. He is a member of MSK. Some members of MSK have transitioned over the last few years into doing art that looks more and more like street art on an aesthetic level while still retaining their roots in graffiti. Sever has done some of that as well, not just with this piece, but also with thesetwo and probably others. What differentiates members of MSK who are embracing the aesthetics of street art from the Johnny-Come-Lately street artists whom Sever seems to be bemoaning with this piece? Is it that the members of MSK have years of experience with illegal graffiti (they definitely have that experience)? Is it that the members of MSK are more skilled than other artists (they definitely are skilled)?
Pretty much all that I can say for sure is that Sever knows how to paint and knows some icons of street art/character-based graffiti. The rest of what I’ve got right now are questions. Does anyone out there have answers? If so, please leave a comment.
And if you’re looking for some art where street art is the butt of the joke and the joke is a bit more clear, try Lush, mobstr or Katsu.