And The Debate Rages On: Fine Art And Graffiti….
By: Joan Butterfield
The concept of fine art is and will no doubt always be a very traditional way of thinking. There are definite elements of art that art included, such as painting andsculpting, but then there are now elements in the modern world that there is muchdebate over. In fact, the debate over one particular modern art form has raged forseveral years now and still shows no signs of abating. Does graffiti constitute fine artor not? Traditionalists argue strongly that it is not, whereas the more modern mindedthat appreciate art for what it is argue that it is fine art because of the tradition behindit, and the fact that it is technically painting for those that are feeling especiallypedantic!In fact, graffiti goes back thousands of years. It can be found in Ancient Greece andRome and thus has a great tradition, according to those artists that do indulge in alittle graffiti from time to time. However, it has had a more sinister meaning in societyfor some years now and this is most likely the reason why traditionalists do not wantto acknowledge it as fine art. Letters, names and images are commonly sprayed orscratched onto walls to represent certain private messages that are left for otherindividuals, to denote territorial boundaries, or indeed to decorate the area! However,because this usually occurs on property that does not belong to the person that sprayedthe message onto the wall, it is considered illegal vandalism. The damage that it doesis often extremely ugly and thus is by no means considered an art by the individualsthat are affected by it. However, modern artists do not break the law and as such arguethat this view of graffiti does not apply to them.Philadelphia, New York and Chicago are the areas of the United States that have beenthe most receptive to graffiti as art. In fact, there is now an exhibition of graffiti in theBrooklyn Museum. It is labelled there as contemporary art and the description alsonotes that it was made famous in the 1980s by artists such as Jean Michel Basquiatand Keith Haring. These two individuals are highly respected that consider such artfine art, and with good reason. They took it away from the notion of it beingvandalism in New York and brought it into the art world once and for all. Some of their work is truly amazing.