From Gutter to Gallery: Graffiti Gets In the Melbourne Museum of Art
Dates: 5/16/2009 to 7/12/2009
From its beginnings on the streets as rebellious communication to its acceptance in private collections and galleries to its influence on marketing and consumerism, graffiti as a style, as an influence, and as an art form cannot be denied. Documented forms of graffiti date back to ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Then as now, it was a form of communication and illegal. The modern form of graffiti made its way to New York City in the late 1960s and exploded on subway trains and buildings. Urban youth, from all racial and economic groups, used metal and brick as their canvases, tagging stylized versions of their names or their group names. Style wars escalated with calligraphic feats growing from plain lettering to unique scripts and styles, followed by scale wars as writers tried to out do each other by painting subway cars from top to bottom and large murals on buildings. Competition created increasingly intricate lettering: block letters, leaning letters and bubble letters were the earliest forms and the foundation of many styles. Soon twisted lines, curls, arrows, and maze like constructions adorned letters; these additions became increasingly complex, and the basis for wild style lettering. As the transit authority made access increasingly difficult and with the rise of guns and drug trafficking, graffiti street culture changed. Eventually, writers began looking for other opportunities and began painting on paper and canvas, attracting the attention of the art world.
From Gutter to Gallery explores the styles of a new generation of writers and artists: Cynic, Sone 2, Slow, Typoe, Enve, This, Deps, BlackBooks, and Cliffton Chandler. Co-curator and writer Cynic shares an inherent love of calligraphy and reveals the intricacies, influences, and undercurrents of graffiti culture.
Photographs by John Sluder, Casey Decotis and James and Karla Murray (of the book Miami Graffiti, www.urbanimagephotography.com) will also be featured.
Co-curated by Jeff Noble aka Cynic and Jackie Borsanyi