There's something childishly rewarding about graffiti. Putting a tag on a building or landmark somewhere is possibly a primally motivated action, calling back to notions of territory and boundaries. Also, it shows the world in general that we, the artist, do not care about the social rules that prevent us from making a mark. The thing is, although most graffiti is harmless and if in the right place, accepted, putting it in the wrong place offers a bigger buzz to the individual, in the way that it is frowned upon. Sticking it to the man, and putting our personal mark on something public offers a double sensation of personal back patting, from the perspective of the anarchic individual.
So it makes sense that for this characteristic, if the building is famous and culturally valuable, then that buzz in tagging it with our own personal mark is often too big to refuse. We itch for the feeling of putting a graffiti label on the biggest and most famous buildings out there. As I writer, I guess it would be the vandals equivalent of getting published in the Guardian. I can well imagine it, the sexiness of it, getting the privilege of having our contribution there for all to see, with such a grand association.
Ruining perfectly good places of cultural interest is the other side of this coin, and for the majority, that is exactly what it is and always will be. In order to shift interest and capture imagination, the cathedral at Florence, Italy, has installed two digital art tablets which use cameras to allow users to draw their own graffiti and tags on the screen. The background is the real image of the cathedral walls, with beautiful classical art work and architecture , but the graffiti is digital and printed out. In order to honour the work of the 21st century taggers, the designs and scrawlings are all printed out and archived in the official cathedral store, alongside all the traditional and relevant literature and records.
Whether or not this will deter the groomed graffiti artists from defacing the antique walls of the cathedral is unclear, but it is definitely sending the message that the younger generation is being listened to and their desires and concepts are being given cultural value by their peers. It is a good move for bridging the gap between the digital generation and the rest of the world.
The century old De Stijl Movement that reinvented the face of Dutch art in the early twentieth century has been wheeled out from the hall of fame and given a primary position in the new Mondrian exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum de Haag, opening summer 2017. Piet Mondrian figure-headed the artistic style, literally “the style” in English, alongside artist Theo Van Doesburg. De Stijl encapsulated the effects of shape and primary colour, breaking art down into rare and basic components that could be shown to play together and form various sensations on canvas.
The exhibition will show the progression of the work and life of Mondrian as he travelled the world, settling in Amsterdam, Paris, London, and finally New York. 300 pieces by the iconic abstract painter will be on display, providing the largest collection of Piet Mondrian in the world.
The plain and direct methods of artistic expression found in De Stijl are considered to be in response to the horrors of the Great War, ending in 1918. With striking repetitious designs of blocks in primary colour, the technique began to push boundaries on what shape, form, and colour could be used to represent.
Mondrian, showing artistic talent from a young age, began in Holland painting landscapes. With an eye for vivid flow, the early works were playful and showed a pre-established skill for use of vivid colour and line. As the twentieth century progressed into its opening years, Mondrian craved a new approach, something modern and fresh for the new era. It was then that he decided to pack up and move to Paris, where the art world was flourishing with new ideas and philosophies. It was here that he sought to liberate himself from the traditional approach of his past. Making a name for himself on the social scene and also finding his unique Mondrian style, it was Paris where the painter became settled in his now famously established direction.
Because of Nazism, Mondrian fled France and moved into a flat in London, where he continued his work as an artist, finding friendship and companionship in jazz clubs and the vibrant London social scene. His work became more sought after, and he was offered to contribute to several high profile galleries, however because of the threat of Nazism drawing closer, he decided to spread his wings and migrate to New York. Taken by the bright lights and culture, the New York music and art scene fuelled the rest of his work until he died in 1944.
The Mondrian exhibition is running from the 3rd of June until the 24th of September 2017, at the Gemeentemuseum De Haag, Netherlands.
Philosophical crazy paving, it may sound far fetched or maybe even “out-there” but the art of making something more beautiful from after it has been initially broken is an ancient and revered technique. The philosophical implications to the eastern school of Kintsugi (Gold joining) can reach as far as the mind may care to wander, however the practical implications make a meal out of the notion of recycling or even upcycling. Making something better than what it used to be, after it has been made inadequate for initial purpose through breaking or obseletion, has always been a worthwhile activity and requires skill of thought and hand in order to achieve properly.
Fixing vases and pottery with liquid gold to fill the cracks has been a long established skill and artisan trade in Japan. Artist Rachel Sussman, author of “The Oldest Living Things in the World”, has taken this honourable and established traditional skill and made it part of the landscape of the outdoors.
We all know that pavements get cracks, and with all kinds of superstitions around stepping on or over them, it's something we pay attention to. Maybe it's a good idea to watch our step, and they make useful prompts to do so. Whatever their appeal to us and children alike, filling them in with gold has made something rather beautiful out of what would perhaps look like a standard street walkway. As nature creates the pattern, it can be coloured in. A symbiosis of talent, one chaotic, naturally forming over time, and one aesthetic, carfully considered and applied.
By decorating the scars which adorn our landscape with something that is prized and valuable, we're showing that even the things that didn't work out right can be valuable, and with a bit of effort, can be made to shine through the normality of everything else.
View more golden street art on hyperallergic.com
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