Street edge

Clas­sic graf­fiti art high­lighted in nyC ex­hi­bi­tion.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ARTS - By ULA ILNYTZKY

Spray-painted at night on a hand­ball court, the mu­ral showed a comic book char­ac­ter peek­ing from be­hind a trash can with the words: “Graf­fiti is a art, and if art is a crime, Let God for­give all.”

that 1978 work helped pro­pel the il­licit graf­fiti art move­ment out of the sub­way and into the main­stream. So, it’s only fit­ting that a can­vas recre­ation of that mu­ral (the orig­i­nal was painted over around 1988) is a part of a ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion on graf­fiti art (now open) at the Mu­seum of the City of new york.

“it was the shot heard around the world,” said its cre­ator Lee Quinones, also known by his tag Lee. “this was a move­ment that needed a vis­ual man­i­festo. i wanted to bring that con­ver­sa­tion that was so elu­sive in the sub­ways above ground, to a con­text al­most sim­i­lar to a mu­seum.”

Only 18 at the time, Quinones be­came known among his gen­er­a­tion for cov­er­ing a 10-car sub­way train. He and an artist named Fab 5 Freddy were among the first to earn gallery recog­ni­tion with a 1979 ex­hi­bi­tion in rome.

What makes the new york City As Can­vas ex­hi­bi­tion unique is that it fo­cuses only on works from the city that were col­lected over the years by east Vil­lage artist Martin Wong, who be­friended and men­tored many of the graf­fiti artists and pro­moted their once-rene­gade art form. Wong’s col­lec­tion of more than 300 such works was do­nated to the Mu­seum of the City of new york be­fore his death in 1999.

about 150 are in the ex­hi­bi­tion, which runs through aug 24.

Graf­fiti ex­ploded in new york in the 1970s be­cause of the sub­way – an ex­pan­sive can­vas for the young rene­gade artists. the sem­i­nal 1983 doc­u­men­tary Style Wars and other me­dia at­ten­tion con­trib­uted to its spread be­yond new york.

But only a hand­ful of the largely teenage graf­fiti artists were “do­ing what we would call master­pieces, blan­ket­ing whole sides of trains,” said the ex­hibit’s cu­ra­tor, Sean Corcoran.

Wong “had the fore­sight to scoop all this stuff up when no one else in new york was think­ing about it se­ri­ously,” said Sacha Jenk­ins, a writer and film­maker who has writ­ten ex­ten­sively on the graf­fiti move­ment.

as ev­i­dence of graf­fiti’s grow­ing cred­i­bil­ity as an art form, Corcoran pointed to the pub­lic in­ter­est in the elu­sive Bri­tish street artist Banksy and the outcry over the re­cent white­wash of a new york City hub of aerosol art known as 5pointz.

“Graf­fiti-in­flu­enced art is on the verge of a new break­through,” said Quinones. – ap

WickedGary’sTagCol­lec­tion, 1970-72, which show­cases ink-drawn ‘tags’, or sig­na­tures used by more than 64 graf­fiti artists. The work func­tions as a who’s who of new york graf­fiti writ­ers, and in­cludes tags by the move­ment’s pioneers such as Phase II, Coco 144, and Snake I.


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