How it all began


Street art developed itself around the time of Popart. Modernism had separated art and life by insisting that the significance of art could solely be found in a work’s aesthetic properties instead of its representational, social or metaphorical content. The Popart movement challenged this idea by abandoning the modern distinction between art and life. Popart artists entered the post-modern art world by allowing everyday objects to enter the art world; the museum, gallery and conversation about art. However, street art showed another response to modernism by doing exactly the opposite of Popart artists. Instead of bringing the everyday into art, they brought art into the everyday. Thus it can be argued that street art is neither postmodern nor post post-modern, but a completely other response to modernism parallel to postmodernism (Riggle, 2010).

          What’s also important to keep in mind is the context in which street art developed itself. First of all, street art was a call to hack the urban landscape that consisted of heavy advertising and controlled visibility. The motivation was to insert images in urban space that challenged the corporate-government monopoly of visible expressions. Street artists wanted to show that there can be other images on the streets coexisting with advertising. Secondly, street art emerged in a time of urbanization and globalization (it’s no surprise that street art is mostly visible in global world cities). In many ways, street art responded to the emergence of these big cities with high concentrations of people, capital and buildings and information. Street artists wanted to interrupt the large amount of homogeneous public spaces in modern cities with local and place-bound gestures (Irvine, 2012).

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