Modern/Contemporary Graffiti: From ’70s

Modern graffiti art originated in New York City, and it was known first as “New York Style” graffiti. Modern graffiti emerged as a part of Hip Hop culture in 1970s.  (Source:

The Golden Age of Graffiti: 1970s


New York’s subway trains were canvas for the graffiti artists. They usually painted words and “tags” (graffiti writers’ name) on the wall or subway trains. The style of words and “tags” is similar to cartoon images. The most of graffiti artists were from the street. They were not professional artists. Moreover, most of them did not receive art education at art institutions. Graffiti works on subway trains and walls were the works that the street teenagers created.

(Source: MOCA,

Late 80s to The Present

Banksy is the one who changed the image of graffiti. Max Foster (CNN reporter) defined the Banksy effect: how the works of Banksy influenced  graffiti art economically.


Graffiti exhibition at Brooklyn museum (6.30.2006- 9.3.2006)



‘from street to gallery’

Street graffiti art moves from the street to the gallery. In short, museums and galleries began to exhibit graffiti art. Also, several professional and trained artists such as Keith Haring started to do graffiti art as the street teenagers did before. Thus, the street art became a professional art.

List of exhibitions

-The United Graffiti Artists’ 1975 exhibition at New York’s Artists Space

-Fab Five Freddy’s widely discussed spray-painted homage to Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans in 1980

-1983, the first major museum exhibition at the Boymans-van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam and the “Post-Graffiti” exhibition at Sidney Janis’s blue-chip gallery.

(Source: MOCA,

Commercial aspects of graffiti (now)



Today’s graffiti art is more commercialized than ever. There are many artists that collaborate with others. Usually, the graffiti artists collaborate with the fashion industry. For example, Louis Vuitton presented the scarf series that the graffiti artists created with the company. Retna, Os Gemeos, and Aiko (all of them are graffiti artists) made Louis Vuitton scarves. Even, Retna covered the surface of Louis Vuitton store in Miami with his graffiti. Also, people can buy ‘graffiti’ t-shirts whenever they want to get.


Still street art

Though graffiti art becomes one kind of contemporary art, still it is a controversial art genre. The controversy over graffiti art is if the graffiti is vandalism or urban art.



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