I’m in New York for over a year and a half now, and so many times I find myself walking just for the sake of looking around. It’s like to walk through the halls of a museum, there are works of art to every wall, but these are not hung, they are painted. Huge murals sprouting on every corner, some remain, others go, most of them have a limited life though and you have to enjoy them to the maximum today ’cause you could be one of the lucky few to have seen them, tomorrow they will leave room for some other design. What I did not realize until now is that many of these murals are recognized works of art.
I was walking in Williamsburg a few nights ago, and I found myself in front of the two huge brilliantly colored faces of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. My love for both has obviously attracted my attention first, but of course that arlecchino-like rainbow on their faces fascinated me. Somehow it seemed appropriate, as if their personality were coming out and giving off colored light on the road.
Back home, taken by curiosity, I started research about street art in NYC and it turned out that the one which for me was simply a great design, it was a work of a street artist for not unknown and that one of its most famous works is precisely my favorite murals. The artist in question is Eduardo Kobra, and apparently his graffiti are scattered throughout the country and beyond.
I have always been fascinated by the skill of use of spray cans by those young people who to my young girlish eyes seemed displaced persons, with no education, probably criminals and drug addicts but somehow still artists who expressed their creativity “by coloring the city”. We see these people originally as opponents of the hegemonic structure of the modern society, expressing their disdain for power but still often embody a real socio-political movement to send powerful messages, as the known to all elusive Banksy and his stencils.
The 80s were the period of greatest development of this “artistic movement” if you can call it so – ’cause for me it’s an artistic movement in every way, as the expressionists and impressionists, nothing more, nothing less – and Keith Haring is perhaps the first to be recognized as a real artist and not a thug . His art was not limited to the walls of the city though (Hilfiger has even a door decorated by Haring) but in the end, like many of the time, overcome by the drugs he did not have much time to continue to disseminate stylized men and figures that characterize him.
After him we hardly heard people associate any of them to the common concept of Art yet, but believe me, people call them artists has never been more right.
Like any self-respecting artist the street artists experiment with new methods, evolve, play with colors and materials, someone builds mosaics, someone incorporates video installations to their works and all this helps to give color to the gray streets of many cities (and adding where it lacks).
Rainbows are exploding on the streets of New York City and dear ladies and gentlemen, for those who are not there already, it is time to let them explode in the rest of the world.
ps. if you are not ready for the rainbows, at least put a pair of wings to your cities, Kelsey Montague has the best around!