Contemporary Street Art

 Many people believe street art to be a recent phenomenon, but in reality, it has been around for centuries. What we now recognize as street art is, in fact, contemporary street art, meaning art created in present times. 

What is Contemporary Street Art?

Contemporary artists are usually those who are still living and working in the present day, and contemporary art shouldn't be confused with modern art, which refers to a specific style. 

Contemporary street artists of the present day include Alec Monopoly, Banksy, Eduardo Kobra, and more. Older street artists who were prolific in the 1970s and 80s may no longer be considered contemporary if they have ceased to create artworks in the present.

What is Street Art?

Street art and Graffiti art (also known as "Spraycan Art," "Subway Art," or "Aerosol Art") is a term used to describe decorative graphics applied to buildings, public transportation, or other property using paint or other means.

Although the term may be traced back to Classical Antiquity or even Prehistoric times, it primarily refers to the post-1960s craze for street art in urban environments. This modern street art was predominantly created with aerosol spray paint and markers. 

The movement began in New York and Philadelphia and has since developed strong ties to underground hip hop culture and b-boying.

The B-boys, the first examples of hip-hop, reportedly used graffiti art to express their frustration with life. Using marker pens, aerosol spray cans, industrial spray paint, acrylics, and stencils on all types of surfaces, their 'canvases' included subway trains, walls, industrial wastelands, subways, and billboards. 

Although Graffiti art was (and is) common throughout Europe and Japan, its historical center has always been New York City. In most countries, one should note that some forms of street art and public art are still regarded as vandalism and are punishable as a criminal offense.

Is Graffiti a Contemporary Art?

Yes, graffiti and street art are forms of contemporary art. You've walked past contemporary art unknowingly hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Public street art inspires you with the artist's ability and makes you pause for thought, or at other times you simply walk past it. 

Whatever feelings one has towards graffiti and street art, these artworks have become an integral part of the daily visual experience. Graffiti plays a vital role in culture, from the small tags of an experimental adolescent to the complex protest art of a master.

Graffiti is derived from the Italian verb 'graffere', which means "to scratch on a surface." The artist can do this 'Scratching' with any tool, permanent or not, on any surface. Graffiti is now defined as the "illicit application of a media to a surface." Spray paint, pencil, stickers, charcoal, and other media are examples of these media.

What is a Contemporary Art Style?

Contemporary art refers to various types of art which are created by living artists working in today's society. Contemporary art is not defined by style or medium, but it can utilize the latest technologies of the present day, which can set it apart from older artworks. Contemporary art can include everything from paintings, sculptures, photography, installation, performance, video art, and more.

Contemporary artworks reflect the times and are part of a broader cultural conversation about personal and cultural identity, family, community, and nationality.

Contemporary art is distinguished by its diversity: in terms of material, form, subject matter, and even periods. It is "distinguished by the absence of a unified organizing principle, ideology, or -ism" that you can see in many other periods and movements of art. Modernism, which is often confused with contemporary art, is self-referential. 

Contemporary art lacks a singular goal or point of view, making it contradictory and open-ended. Nonetheless, contemporary art has surfaced in identity politics, the body, globalization and migration, technology, current society and culture, time and memory, and institutionalization.

Modern and contemporary art are often confused or conflated. They are, however, distinct and describe two different time periods. Modern art is a specific movement and period of art created from the 1880s up to the 1970s. Early street artists working in the 1960s and 70s were part of the modern art movement. 

Contemporary art, and contemporary street art within it, describe only current works of art. Usually, those street artists will still be living and actively creating artworks. But it can also include those artists who have only very recently died or retired.

To put it simply, contemporary art is artwork created by living artists. As a result, it reflects the various worldwide and continuously changing challenges that shape our world. For example, many of today's top street artists use their work to examine personal or cultural identity, criticize societal and institutional frameworks, or even redefine art itself. 

They frequently create challenging or thought-provoking topics in the process without delivering simple answers. The ideal tools for approaching contemporary artwork are curiosity, an open mind, and a willingness to discourse and debate.

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