Daniel Feral

Feral Diagram

————————————————————————————-

THE FERAL DIAGRAM: GRAFFITI AND STREET ART

A short introduction and history about The Feral Diagram

————————————————————————————-

The Feral Diagram is an homage to and celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Alfred H. Barr’s diagram on Cubism and Abstract Art, which he created as the first director of the Museum of Modern Art in 1936. The Feral Diagram picks up where The Barr Diagram left off. It depicts how Graffiti and Street Art have moved to the center of art history and articulates how they have influenced and been influenced by the other major movements and artists in the fine art community.

The idea for The Feral Diagram came to Daniel Feral in 2005 when he first discovered The Barr Diagram. He was enamored by the content, the power of the simplicity of it, the statement it made, and the beauty of the design. In one concise document, it designated Cubism and Fauvism as the center of art history, revealed the drama between them, and illustrated their influences and who they subsequently influenced. He also recognized that there was a direct comparison between those two movements and Graffiti and Street Art, and realized he could depict how they have now moved to the center of art history. So, he sketched a pencil version of the Feral Diagram to show his friends for a laugh over drinks and then put it away with the idea of doing more with it someday.

The Feral Diagram first appeared as a solidified design in the March 29th, 2011 press release for the PANTHEON: A HISTORY OF ART FROM THE STREETS OF NYC exhibition in the Donnell Library across from MoMA in Manhattan. It went viral as a point of discussion and contention, being reblogged thousands of times and liked, disliked or commented on hundreds of thousands of times. On April 1st, the day before the opening of Pantheon, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles contacted co-curators Daniel Feral and Joyce Manalo about carrying the diagram as a poster in the bookstore during Jeffrey Deitch’s ground-breaking historical exhibition ART IN THE STREETS, which was opening on April 17th. Within those walls, US cultural history changed course as graffiti and street art for the first time were bestowed institutional cultural value via a major museum’s recognition. The vandals were mythologized and the institution was vandalized. We were honored to be included. They sold a hundred posters a month during the four month run. Banksy may have Exited Through The Gift Shop, but we snuck in through it. Thank you to our friends and compatriots who we shared time with in NYC and LA during that time.

The Feral Diagram has also been included in the collections of the Canadian National Gallery library, No Longer Empty, Urban Nation Berlin, The Nakamura Keith Haring Museum, and many others.

Daniel Feral would like to give special thanks for the consultation of: Joyce Manalo, Karla Henrick, Charlie Ahearn, John Fekner, Poesia Transcend, Carlos Mare, Natalie Hegert, Lukas Fuchsgruber, Katherine Lorimer, Enrico Letter, Alex Emmart, and Rhiannon Platt.

FeralDiagramPosters

————————————————

THE FERAL DIAGRAM IN THE MEDIA

————————————————

Infographic: Mapping The 70-Year Gestation Of Street Art by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670917/infographic-mapping-the-70-year-gestation-of-street-art

MoMA Makes a Facebook for Abstractionists by Robin Cembalest

http://www.artnews.com/2012/10/02/momaabstractionfaceboo

Feral Diagram 2.0 part of Futurism 2.0 Exhibition by Poesia

http://graffuturism.com/2012/09/24/daniel-feral-releases-feral-diagram-2-0-at-futurism-2-0-symmetry-across-centuries

Futurism 2.0: Symmetry Across Centuries Book from Gammaproforma

(For this book Daniel Feral wrote a 13k word essay comparing and contrasting the Futurists and the Graffuturists)

http://www.gammaproforma.com/index.php/ecwid#!/FUTURISM-2-0-EXHIBITION-CATALOGUE/p/14308685/category=3263234

http://www.futurism2-0.com/index.php/2012-04-16-16-56-28

http://www.gammaproforma.com/index.php/ecwid#!/FUTURISM-2-0-EXHIBITION-CATALOGUE/p/14308685/category=3263234

Feral Diagram Proves Street Art is Fine Art by The Standard

http://www.standardculture.com/posts/6998-Feral-Diagram-Proves-Street-Art-is-Fine-Art

Crime and the Urban Imagination: Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination by Alison Young

http://bit.ly/1BIuueJ

The Feral Diagram has also inspired others to take on the task of creating infographics based on elements of The Barr Diagram, such as:

The Hip-Hop Infographik: http://williamsmccallgallery.com/david-mccauley.html

Liquid Modernity And Graffiti: http://www.felipepantone.com/project/dont-forget-to-write

***

FeralDiagram_LoDownMag_86

————————————

DANIEL FERAL BIOGRAPHY

————————————

Daniel Feral is a theoretician and art historian, who studied art history and writing in college. Afterwards, he continued his studies in the library and on the streets at night, where his friends were taking actions to transmit the most direct, resonant and relevant art form at the turn of the new millennium. Daniel has written for Graffuturism.com, ArtSlantStreet.com, 12ozProphet.com, and BrooklynStreetArt.com. He is the creator of The Feral Diagram: Graffiti and Street Art. On invite from The Museum Of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the diagram was carried as a poster in their bookstore during the ground-breaking Art In The Streets exhibit in 2011.

In 2011, Daniel also co-curated with Joyce Manalo the exhibition PANTHEON: A history of art from the streets of NYC. With editor and designer Karla Henrick, they published a 427-page catalog, which they consider a time capsule of graffiti and street artists and their community’s voices of that time. The exhibition was in the Donnell Library space directly across from the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan and included artists spanning the past four decades from LSD-Om to Freedom to Hambleton to Ket1 to UFO 907. He has lectured at the School of Visual Arts, Brooklyn Academy of Urban Planning, University of Southern California, and the Remsenburg Academy of Art.

***

Futurism2point0_BookAndCatalog

———————————————

EXAMPLES OF HIS ART WRITING:

———————————————

WILLEM DE KOONING AND WILDSTYLE

http://12ozprophet.com/news/essay-Willem-de-kooning-and-wildstyle

WILLEM DE KOONING AND WILDSTYLE is probably the most significant and content rich essay on this list. Inspired by the De Kooning retrospective at the MoMA in 2011-2012, a review became an essay that took that opportunity to compare and contrast Abstract Expressionist aesthetics and culture of the 1940s-50s with the Graffiti Writers of the 1970s-present day. It is also important because the day it was published on 12ozProphet’s website in January 2012, Poesia Transcend read it and immediately contacted Daniel. This phone call sparked their friendship and led to many significant collaborations between them and articles written by Daniel about the Graffuturists over the past few years. Poesia is a long time contributor to the 12ozProphet community; has been a leading practitioner of Abstract Graffiti since the 1990s when he became a member of the Transcend Collective in San Francisco; is currently a contemporary painter that combines graffiti and fine art aesthetics; and is the editor of Graffuturism.com, a major instigator of in depth intellectual aesthetic discussion within the graffiti and fine art communities.

Graffuturism_LosAngeles_Catalog

———–

ESSAYS:

———–

WILLEM DE KOONING AND WILDSTYLE: http://bit.ly/1J8DIQk

SHEPARD FAIREY’S VANDALIZED VANDALISM: http://bit.ly/1upIaJs

BRISTOL UK’s BIPOLAR SUPPORT OF URBAN ART: http://bit.ly/yrnoBi

INTERNET INFORMATION BLACKOUT: http://bit.ly/15sUEUH

GraffitiArtMagazine

————————————

GRAFFUTURISM RELATED:

————————————

GRAFFUTURISM IN LOS ANGELES: http://bit.ly/1AI3ExL

GRAFFUTURISM IN PARIS: http://bit.ly/1Cxc7Gf

GRAFFUTURISM IN LONDON 1: http://bit.ly/1Cyc8tp

GRAFFUTURISM IN LONDON 2: http://bit.ly/1xuZo3w

FUTURA’S FUTURE SHOCK: http://bit.ly/ULIOIG

DEEP SPACE – FUTURA, RMLZ, PHASE2, MATTA: http://bit.ly/WdH9Ni

DEEP SPACE CURATOR NEMO LIBRIZZI: http://bit.ly/UVkXGv

POESIA TRANSCEND MFTJ STUDIO VISIT: http://bit.ly/1Bcluvw

POESIA TRANSCEND MFTJ PREVIEW: http://bit.ly/ILVrUU

POESIA TRANSCEND MFTJ EXHIBITION: http://bit.ly/1BclmMG

POESIA JAYBO AND RODRIGUEZ: http://bit.ly/1xTkwzn

POESIA TRANSCEND 1990s BURNERS: http://bit.ly/JecIPm

POESIA TRANSCEND AT POWWOW: http://bit.ly/ypWzYd

CARLOS MARE APPOINTED US AMBASSADOR OF GRAFFITI: http://bit.ly/1xRPW9r

CARLOS MARE NYU ARTIST TALK: http://bit.ly/1womCqA

DALE VERMIN MARSHALL: http://bit.ly/12g2vSM

CAGE1 ABSTRACT PAINTING: http://bit.ly/zl2g6k

PART2ISM’S NEW HORIZONS AND FUTURE LOVE SONGS: http://bit.ly/1DZGDMV

MONEYLESS AND LYKEN’S GLASGOW COLLABORATIONS: http://bit.ly/1BBvMbk

MARK LYKEN THE LONELINESS MACHINES: http://bit.ly/GX2EAm

MARK LYKEN PATTERN INTERRUPT PREVIEW: http://bit.ly/1xTuBfR

MARK LYKEN PATTERN INTERRUPT VIDEO: http://bit.ly/1BBvr8l

MARK LYKEN HAND PAINTED CLOTHING: http://bit.ly/1AJEXRC

GEOMETRICKS CURATED BY BROOKLYNSTREETART.COM: http://bit.ly/1CycJva

NewYorkArtBookFair2011_CharlieAhearn

—————————

GALLERY REVIEWS:

—————————

CALEB NEELON AKA SONIK, PT. 1: http://bit.ly/1CMPiP3

CALEB NEELON AKA SONIK, PT. 2: http://bit.ly/z2NRvp

CALEB NEELON’s VICTORY GARDEN: http://bit.ly/yUQYPr

DARKCLOUD’S AT LOT F GALLERY: http://bit.ly/1yH40b7

STIKMAN TURNS 20 AT PANDEMIC: http://bit.ly/1JaCnIR

UFO907 AT BAM IN SHELF LIFE SHOW: http://bit.ly/181J3xB

NOXER AT LOWBROW ARTIQUE: http://bit.ly/1BzSD70

NOXER – KET1 SHARES PHOTOS AND THOUGHTS: http://bit.ly/1J47pny

LAZARIDES BEDLAM IN LONDON: http://bit.ly/1xRT7hv

FOUNTAIN ART FAIR 2012: http://bit.ly/zoQQo7

CASH4 AT TENDER TRAP: http://bit.ly/1wokhMv

CASH4 – GRAFF VS STREET ART: http://bit.ly/1C68ola

TONY BONES AT TENDER TRAP: http://bit.ly/15suiSV

VAGRANTS AT TENDER TRAP: http://bit.ly/1uo9GXB

ELMER AND GASM IN DETROIT: http://bit.ly/1yHBCav

MOODY AT PANDEMIC: http://bit.ly/1womesb

MOODY MUTZ STOLEN PAINTING: http://bit.ly/1yot4Di

MOODY MUTZ HISTORY: http://bit.ly/1560quV

BELIEVE THE HYPE GROUP SHOW AT PANDEMIC: http://bit.ly/1ul2iGV

ALL TALK GROUP SHOW AT PANDEMIC: http://bit.ly/1KZcO0X

KLUB7 AT PANDEMIC: http://bit.ly/1Eo8e7T

RUSK BY JULIAN GILBERT: http://bit.ly/1ul1T7r

RATHER UNIQUE GROUP SHOW AT WOODWARD: http://bit.ly/1zvdTKy

RATHER UNIQUE RECAP: http://bit.ly/1CfrZPK

SKEWVILLE AT WHITE WALLS: http://bit.ly/1sWVow2

PAPERBOYS AT PANDEMIC: http://bit.ly/1KZd409

ROBOTS WILL KILL AT MIGHTY TANAKA: http://bit.ly/1J5Htrv

PARANORMAL HALLUCINATIONS AT PANDEMIC: http://bit.ly/1BcFzC3

LEAP YEAR GRAFF PARTY AT THE ELDORADO: http://bit.ly/1CftwW3

ROYCE BANNON CURATES AT MISHKA: http://bit.ly/1ulhyDF

RADICAL ON BROOKLYNSTREETART.COM: http://bit.ly/whfYPR

Pantheon_FeralDiagram_TheStreetSpot

—————————

STREET COVERAGE:

—————————

ROLLING OUT WITH SMELLS: http://bit.ly/1xvAktc

THE SAN JOSE TUNNELS: http://bit.ly/JVoFB6

STEADY BENCHING WHOLECAR FREIGHTS: http://bit.ly/1womqHY

SOLO1: SAVING LONDON’S HALL OF FAME: http://bit.ly/1Cybegx

ROLLER PAINTERS OVERUNDER & N’DA: http://bit.ly/1yozHWn

PHILLY GRAFF PHOTO SURVEY: http://bit.ly/1EoFWu6

LEBANESE CALLIGRAFFITI BY MAN-YAK: http://bit.ly/1wompE1

ARTIST ALLEY AT EXTRA PLACE BY FAB: http://bit.ly/1Cfnl4h

KICKSTARTER FOR ARTIST ALLEY: http://bit.ly/1zv7jDM

—————————

ORIGINAL WRITERS:

—————————

LAVA’s OLD SCHOOL EVENT: http://bit.ly/GECW2D

EDDIE SNAKE1 RODRIGUEZ PROFILE: http://bit.ly/yXljK6

LSD-OM PROFILE: http://bit.ly/GEwQzi

EARLY 80s GRAFF IN COPENHAGEN: http://bit.ly/1BBMmYC

————————-

BOOKS AND ZINES:

————————-

CARNAGE #1: http://bit.ly/1Gs2UoV

CARNAGE #2: http://bit.ly/1yFRmYu

GRAFFITI 365 BOOK REVIEW: http://amzn.to/uDz3eP

GRAFF AT NEW YORK ART BOOK FAIR: http://bit.ly/15umDnB

GRAFF AT BROOKLYN ZINE FEST: http://bit.ly/1xRQo7D

ESPO’s ICY by MEGAWORDS: http://bit.ly/zAPP8z

REMIO’S SLEEPNER ZINE: http://bit.ly/1Eo5B66

ABC NO RIO ZINE LIBRARY: http://bit.ly/1BcqSyK

WALNUT’S GRAFF-X #2 2002: http://bit.ly/GPniiZ

GRAFF ZINE #3 2006: http://bit.ly/GXwaji

MAKING DEALS’ ZINE SNOWBLIND: http://bit.ly/15vySQY

BUM CUM – NYC GRAFF DOORS: http://bit.ly/1xve6HR

JIM & KARLA MURRAY’S STOREFRONTS: http://bit.ly/1CfvQvZ

***

—————————————————————————

THE FERAL DIAGRAM: GRAFFITI AND STREET ART

—————————————————————————

This is the definitive in-depth essay by Daniel Feral about The Feral Diagram. It is reprinted from the “Pantheon: A History of Art from the Streets of NYC” catalog, NY, 2011. It has been updated and edited on the occasion of the “Concrete To Data exhibition,” Steinberg Museum of Art, NY, 2015.

INTRODUCTION

At the beginning of the new millennium, it is official: Graffiti and street art have changed the world. Through guerrilla aesthetic tactics, popular support, and an underground communication system, the practitioners in the movement have physically reclaimed geographic territory, psychically hijacked cultural consciousness, and aesthetically snuck under the gates into those two fortresses of cultural and economic value: the museums and the auction houses.

This is a time of celebration and summation, self-awareness and cultural recognition. Leaders in the community are publishing detailed history books and curating complete museum retrospectives. Supporters are making political, theoretical, and sociological studies; writing statements, manifestos and essays; and creating documentaries, websites, and photo archives. Through the efforts of these thinkers, scholars and historians, and the thousands of other authors and artists over the past forty years, a new map has been drafted, and a third-person overview has finally articulated and asserted itself as an alternative to the predominant monologue we currently know as Fine Art History. All of this recent activity will delineate and historically finalize this cultural geography in the mass consciousness and bestow authority on the movement’s aesthetics, heroes and myths.

My diagram called THE FERAL DIAGRAM: GRAFFITI AND STREET ART is an attempt to utilize the identical visual language that Barr used in his infamous diagram CUBISM AND ABSTRACT ART, but to update the content to illustrate the rise, influence and incorporation of graffiti and street art into the fine art community. This is not an attempt to completely map the history of graffiti and street art. The focus of this effort is to show how much influence the movement has had on the fine art community.

THE BARR DIAGRAM: CUBISM AND ABSTRACT ART

In 1935, the first director of The Museum of Modern Art, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., designed a diagram called CUBISM AND ABSTRACT ART. It was meant to educate the public and promote a huge exhibition of the same name. It was used in ads, posters and for the cover of the exhibition catalog. The exhibition was a huge hit, the museum continued to grow in influence, and The Barr Diagram became an expression of and the basis for Fine Art History. Some see his diagram as visionary, others see it as a coffin.

When I first discovered the diagram six years ago, I was immediately smitten by it’s concise design. Having grown up obsessed with art and music, but having no talent in either discipline, I expended my creative energies collecting comics, books and records. I loved to physically organize and categorize my collections. At age ten, I even created a simplistic little card catalog for everything. As I grew up, these OCD and maybe even slightly autistic talents, ended up coming in handy. I studied writing in college and had jobs proofreading. Afterwards, this led to being a designer when I managed to switch departments while working at a publishing house. Eventually I ended up in a corporate identity company doing information design.

Luckily, at the same time as I was moving up the corporate ladder, and feeling all the boredom and misery that the money could not assuage, a lot of my friends were taking their art to the streets. I respected the risk and dedication. It was exciting and fun, but also a protest, a cry for change from a growing population of people with aspirations to make the world a better place, when none of the past conventional ways seemed to work. So, I started taking pictures, reading books, and writing about the movement.

THE FERAL DIAGRAM: GRAFFITI AND STREET ART

During this same time period, I found The Barr Diagram. It seemed to be the perfect graphic container to summarize and exemplify how this ignored art form actually fits into the Fine Art Pantheon, if not actually taking it over completely. I’ve organized my notes around the corresponding elements of the diagrams.

The Dates:

His chronology ends in 1935, which was a perfect year to reach the ends of the known art world and chart what is beyond. Over the next five to ten years, the focus of the world shifted to America, which was undeniably becoming the dominant economic and cultural power. At the same time, as WWII swept across Europe, many of the prominent European artists emigrated here, creating a petri dish of old world aesthetics mixing in with the popular culture and innovations of a new society. As much as the European refinement and intellectualism attracted young artists, American popular culture became a huge influence as well: comic books, television, Hollywood culture, and other indigenous forms.

The Titles:

The two titles seem equivalent at first, because they look and sound alike, but actually the relationship is only similar. In the title of The Barr Diagram, the two subjects are in a hierarchical relationship. Cubism is a subcategory of Abstract Art. Abstract Art as a singular movement doesn’t even appear in the actual diagram. Whereas, the two subjects in the title of The Feral Diagram, are actually both subcategories of some bigger over arching name and definition, which has not been culturally finalized yet. Terms such as Urban Art and Urban Contemporary have been floating around out there, but they seemed completely unusable to me. They ring untrue because no one I know used those words. They are not terms that initially came from the graffiti or street communities themselves. They may be a result of categories created by the auction houses for their sales. I usually hear the term used when discussing sales of art.

So, I decided that I would have to give up perfect equivalence and settle for approximate similarity between the titles of the two diagrams. Graffiti and Street Art sounded better, looked better, and made more sense with the vocabulary I was willing to use at the time. But as I’ve watched the term Urban Art creep into the hardcore graff and street art sites, and popping up in conversation with all different kinds of people, I’m starting to lean towards it. Using it would solve the issue of having to use the cumbersome “graffiti and street art.” The movement would be in very good company considering that many great movements were named after a negative review, like Cubism and Impressionism. But it is a sign of our times that the annoying title is from the indifferent auction houses just going about their business with lack of sensitivity and understanding. Interesting to point out that the lack of depth of the cause is in direct opposition to the studied, debated and rarified judgment of an involved  critic who is friends with but also plays the role of devil’s advocate or sounding board.

The Layout:

Basically The Barr Diagram is broken into four levels. At the top, from 1890-1900, there are The Influences. This level is made up of two movements and four individuals. In the middle from 1900-1920 there are The Subjects, which are Fauvism and Cubism, the two antagonistic protagonists of this drama. Then from 1910-1930 we have the third level made up of The Influenced, which is basically any movement that came afterwards. And at the bottom at 1935, we have The Future, where he breaks down everything into two large categories that he believes future artists will choose from.

In The Future level, Barr actually was quite portentous with his two categories: Non-Geometrical Abstract Art and Geometrical Abstract Art. A dialog went back and forth between the two categories until Clement Greenburg’s definition of Abstract Expressionism in the mid-forties shifted the focus to the Non-Geometrical Abstract Art category. By the early fifties, as the movement grew and changed, Harold Rosenberg’s term Action Painting developed out of dissatisfaction with the limitations of the AbEx definition. The formal aesthetic elements of the movement had also shifted from focusing on intensely layered expressionistic geometric abstractions still based in draftsmanship, to improvised full body gestures focusing on the action of the body acting in life with no preliminary sketching.

The Feral Diagram also breaks down into the same four levels, but the layout has become much more complicated with the added decades and more art movements to clutter up the design. Some of the different movements and connections will be discussed below.

The Design:

I kept all the design elements identical for two reasons. First, I wanted to honor Barr’s intellectual brilliance. After years of studying fine art, I did feel emotionally attached to and intellectually invested in the artists and the history in his diagram. Secondly, it was very exciting to realize that by using his design vocabulary to tell this new history, the diagram would actually be subverting the current history of fine art just by putting graffiti and street art at the center and demonstrating the connections and influence that the movement has had. By utilizing his visual language to tell a story other than that sanctioned by the Fine Art establishment, it made me feel like I was subverting the system too. It made me feel like I was doing what my friends were doing: reclaiming public space. I felt excited to add to and continue the dialogue that was started by them.

The thing I loved most about the design of his diagram was the clarity and conciseness. At first I was trying to keep the counts of the elements exactly the same. I didn’t want to fill it up with more than his because I thought it was necessary to keep it sparse if I wanted it to have the exact same feel.  Pretty quickly I had to let that constraint go because this new diagram was going to be much more complicated. The art world is much bigger today, so there are more movements and artists to include; and also because this diagram covers a much longer time span. The Barr Diagram covered forty-five years, whereas The Feral Diagram covers seventy.

The colors, typeface, type size, and overall style of The Barr Diagram are typical for an avant-garde publication of its time. It looked sleek and clean, futuristic and modern, even scientific. But the key design feature is the arrows. They tell the story and bring out the drama by connecting the different movements and delineating who was more influential. There are thirty-five black arrows and seventeen red ones. The black ones stem off of the half-circles that designate movements and individuals. The red ones stem off of the boxes that enclose influences that are from outside of the art world. Actually two of the lines are dashed (one red and one black) but Barr never made a legend or wrote about the diagram, so now no one seems to know what the dashes signify.

The Content:

To begin this section, I want to reemphasize that this diagram is not intended to encapsulate the whole history of graffiti and street art. Its purpose is to situate the movement at the center of Fine Art History, revealing a myriad and infinite amount of connections between the two worlds. This exercise is a way of drafting the movement’s current coordinates on the art history map and to chart how it has infiltrated the fine art community over the past forty years.

Except for the dashed lines, Barr successfully created a 2-D infographic that can be informative with no extraneous information beyond the diagram itself, even if the content is somewhat esoteric. But if he had just written a little about it, we could have gotten a fuller understanding of it. So below I will discuss some of the titles for the movements and relationships between them in an attempt to make The Feral Diagram more transparent:

Condensation And Omission: A good to point to make here is that an important and disturbing aspect of any diagram is that elements will be condensed depending on the purpose of the design of the information. Sometimes these combinations can be misconstrued as omissions if the viewer misunderstands the intention of the diagram. As stated above the intention is not to chart the full history of graffiti and street art, but to illustrate connections between them and the fine art world.

So, in order to make room for as many connections as possible to the fine art world, many popular and sub-cultural art movements that influenced the development of graffiti and street art were condensed under the category LowBrow Art. I use the term retaining its original definition to refer to all the popular and sub-cultural art forms in the fifties and sixties. I then placed it in a red box designating it as an outside influence on the fine art community. I am aware that there was an art movement by the same name in the early-seventies but in order to save space I chose to display it only once at the earliest manifestation, but give a nod to the seventies movement by spelling the term like they do, rather than with a space between low and brow as it would be in conventional usage. This definition enfolds: skateboard and surf graphics, murals, gang graffiti, latrinalia, hobo monikers, billboards, television, cartooning and tattooing. I already had so many red boxes up on the top level that I was desperate for a way to make room. So, after long consideration, this seemed like the best solution considering the intent of the diagram.

Other elements that were omitted which I thought were incredibly important but just wouldn’t fit were: books, movies, haters and recording technologies. None of these categories are in The Barr Diagram either, but they had such impact on the culture of graffiti and street art that they seemed worth mentioning. Books: Subway Art, Spray Can Art and Street Art. Movies: Wildstyle, Style Wars and Beautiful Losers. Haters: Beef, The Buff, The Splasher, The NYC government. The shift from film to video to digital, as well as the miniaturization of cameras, also dramatically impacted the culture.

Allan Kaprow-to-Graffiti Relationship: One of the more interesting connections made is between Allan Kaprow and Graffiti. Kaprow theorized that Jackson Pollock’s art could be seen as a call to step out of the ivory tower and into everyday life to make art with everyday things. Pollock’s work was inspiring because he had removed the canvas from the easel, stepped into it with his whole body, and did not confine his energies within the edges, but continued the spills and splashes directly onto the floor. He was fully engaged in the environment. This action freed us all to jump off the canvas, and make art directly with life, in life, and with new formal aesthetic choices that had nothing to do with paint or mark making. For Kaprow, this culminated in his Happenings and Environments exhibitions of the early Sixties.

By the late Sixties, when graffiti had started to appear in its modern form as tags and in five years grew into huge masterpieces on the sides of subways, it became easy to see that many similarities exist between Kaprow’s definition of art and the way writer’s physically paint in full-body motions like the Action Painters and then they dispatch the art directly into the public. Writers don’t bother with canvas; They paint directly onto the subways. They also added a lot of new formal categories that were based on social interactions with various elements of their environments, such as scamming materials, befriending the subway conductors to get keys, evading the police, and so on. Hackers call this “social engineering” and is an integral part of the art of hacking, just as it is with serious writers.

ADVERTISING AESTHETICS: The main aesthetic element of advertisements is manipulation. Everything is constructed to seduce and influence the viewer to believe and buy. Pop Art, Graffiti and Street Art frequently use the same distribution techniques and current advertising styles as materials to subvert and comment.

GRAFFITI-TO-DECONSTRUCTIVISM: In Manhattan, the façade of the building at 40 Bond street was “derived from contemporary graffiti tags, hybridized by computer” and has that exposed structure, flowing surface and sleek modern look.

PROTO-GRAFF: This is a category where writers explore primitive styles from the early days of bubble letters and outlines from the early to mid-seventies. Todd James aka Reas was one of the first artists that I saw photos of doing this kind of thing.

OUTSIDER GRAFF: The artists that fall into this category utilize a raw unschooled look.  The aesthetic does not fit in with mainstream graffiti because practitioners usually don’t care about things like can control or straight lines. Subject matter tends to be personal and idiosyncratic, visionary and even schizophrenic.

TACKERS: This is a term that is a mix of attacker, taggers, and hackers. You wont find it online anywhere. The genesis of it was a conversation I was having with the writer Mariette Papic on a bad cell phone connection. I thought she was saying Haggers in reference to some hackers that she thought were like taggers. The term stuck in my head and I couldn’t stop thinking about it because I liked that there were these crazed coders out there committing aesthetic damage the equivalent of tagging or wheatpasting. But when I called to confirm what she had said, she said that she never used the term and doesn’t remember the conversation. But I couldn’t give up on the idea. So I decided I’d put it at the bottom as a future possibility. So, basically Tackers are like malicious hackers but using aesthetic-based tactics to break down the system in the digital realm.

END NOTE

Graffiti and street art will always be a part of human culture, as proven by the existence of cave paintings and all of the other manifestations over the centuries. But in the future, as our physical reality changes so drastically, what form will illegal public expression take, what materials will be used, what surfaces will be written on? Will the tension around private versus public property be resolved? Whatever the direction our society takes, artists will always find ways to question it with their actions and aesthetics. Therefore, artists will continue to create new aesthetic forms that express the current state of their culture. With that unique visual voice that captures attention and connection, they create dialogue with their community at large, and possibly influence and change the world with their art.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *