At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, street art evolved towards more complex forms of interdisciplinary artistic expression. Graffiti, print, frescoes, projects from artistic collaborations to street installations for performances and videos. Urban art has found its way to the heart of contemporary art where it makes its place.
The first forms of street art expression were certainly graffiti which began to appear on the faces of the trains and on the walls. It was the work of gangs in the 1920s and 1930s in New York. And the impact of this subversive culture was more deeply felt in the 1970s and 1980s. These two decades marked a turning point in the history of street-art. Indeed, it was a period when young people began to look for ways to express their opinions in the face of their social and political environment. Little by little, this phenomenon has gained ground and has found its legitimacy. It has turned into a true art. This was done first through the photo as a means of capturing this culture and relaying it. We will remember the name of Martha Cooper, one of the most respected photographers for her work in documenting street art.
But photographers were soon no longer the only ones capturing and replacing street art in other contexts. The essentially illegal movement, a process of creation through destruction, has nevertheless evolved in its form to reach galleries and the world market. Although still subversive and largely an illegal movement, through art lovers and professionals, street art has earned its place in the world of contemporary art.
Today is not just a story of graffiti. Although street art owes part of its glory to this type of artistic expression, it is a wonderful art form in itself and it is amazing to follow the evolution and diversity of street art in the 21st century. For example, stencils were part of history alongside graffiti and were vessels of socio-political activism for those in power and even more for those who resisted. The evolution of urban art became evident through artists like Banksy, who transformed the views of this art form with his documentary Exit through the gift shop. With the emergence of artists such as the Vhils or BLU, street-art has become a field of experimentation with different types of methodologies, but without ever giving up its rebellious position in front of the hegemonic models and structures of popular culture and the reality of mass media.
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