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What is street art (urban art) ?

aerosol work representative of urban art / street art

Urban art, also known as street art, emerged as an artistic movement and means of expression in the late 20th century. Originally, it was associated with illegal, subversive and ephemeral acts, often created to question, explore, mark, deface, hijack or sublimate the context of their creation.

This artistic genre encompasses a variety of techniques, including graffiti, mural painting, trompe-l'œil, stencil, mosaic, sticker, poster and collage, as well as installations such as urban knitting. It can even include performance art in its definition.

Urban art is mainly characterized by its ephemeral nature, often being exhibited to the general public. It should be noted that it should not be confused with art in the public space or projects initiated by public institutions, such as the American Federal Art Project of the 1930s or the initiatives undertaken in France from the 1960s and 1970s onwards.

The birth of street art and its influence

The history of urban art is rich and complex, dating back to the beginnings of mankind, but becoming a truly recognized artistic movement from the 20th century onwards.

Origins: Urban art has its roots in street culture, graffiti and unconventional forms of artistic expression. However, the modern urban art movement emerged in the 1960s, mainly in New York. It was influenced by the need to express political, social and cultural ideas, as well as by the nascent hip-hop culture.

The pioneers: Artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring were among the pioneers of urban art, using the streets of New York as the canvas for their works, often linked to political and social issues. Graffiti and tagging were common forms of artistic expression in the urban environment.

The influence of hip-hop culture: Urban art was closely linked to hip-hop culture, which included dance, music and graffiti. Urban artists were strongly influenced by hip-hop music and used their artistic talents to contribute to this emerging culture.

Internationalization: Over the years, urban art has spread all over the world. Artists from different cultures have adapted the movement to their own contexts, creating regional variations of urban art.

Contemporary urban art: Today, urban art is recognized as a legitimate artistic movement. Renowned artists such as Banksy have contributed to its acceptance in the contemporary art world. Urban artworks are exhibited in galleries, museums and public spaces, and urban art has a significant influence on popular culture.

Influence on popular culture: Urban art has influenced fashion, music, design, advertising and other aspects of popular culture. Its motifs, vivid colors and social commitment have left their mark on a generation of artists and creative people.

Today, urban art continues to evolve and expand, with new artists incorporating digital elements and other contemporary media. It remains a powerful means of artistic expression, social protest and visual communication in the urban context.

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