How to define street art?

How to define street art?

For cultural theorists and sociologists, it is always a question of cultural context, and of identity deliberation. This does not prevent us from wondering what street art is. You could say that it is a movement, perhaps an artistic expression, but perhaps more than that an art form in itself. One thing is certain, urban art has become an essential element of contemporary art.

It should not be assumed that the beginnings of what we consider today as street art necessarily defined the concept. It is not wrong to say that it started with graffiti, the first impulses of graffiti artists to create in the street are still the essence of the artistic expression of street artists today. The notion of environment is crucial and this is what fueled the motivation of graffiti artists in the 1970s and 1980s. It is at the origin of the energy that is present in the activities of street artists who emerge at the beginning of the 21st century. One thing is certain: the origins of urban art lie in the creative process constructed by the artist's intention to form an antithesis through his work to the dominant societal context.

The presence of street art in an urban context was mainly based on the notion of repetition. Indeed, to have a certain impact in this landscape, the graffiti artists lived with the imperative to reproduce their typographies or their symbolic expressions over and over again. In a world where the digital community that we take for granted today was not even conceivable, artists had to fight for the possibility of their work being seen. Quite quickly, the repetition became an “infinite” process, torn from the hands of the artists, making their way towards the immensity of the virtual space. This without ever questioning its presence in our urban environment. This represents a revolutionary period for the movement. However, the transformation of street art was not only influenced by the digital space.

Some street artists, who had started their work with bombs, began to explore new methodological horizons. With the Italian artist BLU, street art is evolving in video art. What is fascinating then is the journey from the street to video, a reinvention, a new form of artistic expression. We do not leave the world of street art, it is not the video file that carries the art, but the street and the walls, and the artist who is ready to embark on this business.

Finally street art is so moving that it would quickly be reductive to try to define it. It is a contemporary art that fits well with the centuries it crosses, constantly adapting to its time through ever more evolving methods.


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