Which is the difference between Street Art and Graffiti?
We often tend to confuse, sometimes also meld, Street Art and Graffiti. This happens because both of them take place on the streets and they’re both motivated by the thrill of lawlessness. Nevertheless they are firmly considered two different art forms.However we will not try to find the perfect definition of one or the other, rather we will try to understand them as art forms, in order to appreciate them both.
Graffiti have existed since ancient times, our ancestors used them as means of communication before the appearance of writing. Anyhow, Graffiti as we know it right now is way more relevant: it borns in Seventies on the trains of Philadelphia, and then it moved very fast to New York ghettos, thanks to hip-hop and the appearance of spray cans. This artistic movement is characterised by the study of the letter and the use of a Tag, which is nothing less than the pseudonym of the artist itself.
In the early eighties, thanks to the Graffiti documentary “Style Wars”, the movement spread throughout the world.
The first known graffiti writer was TAKI 183, the writer has never revealed his full name, but we surely know that he started the movement, whose essence is translated by a writer in Style Wars: “It is in the interest of graffiti writers to be calm and relaxed in order to be able to do their art on trains. He - the writer - wants to enter and exit without being noticed, except for the art he will leave to the public”. Despite this it is important to underline that writers only care about being recognized by the other writers.
In the following years Graffiti were photographed and published in art galleries, making the movement become less exclusive and authentic. It is like as if Graffiti writers have been peeling off their pieces from the trains to put them onto canvas. At this point the true essence of Graffiti was almost lost, with the exception of some artists who followed the tradition of the artistic movement.
Street Art differs a lot from Graffiti, not so much for how it’s done, but for the purpose of its art. Street artists make their art to amaze, excite and make those who come across the reflect. Behind a Urban Art work there is always a bigger and more complete project, with the aim of giving a specific feeling in who, even by chance, sees it.
A striking example is the attempt made by many street artists to raise awareness of issues such as global warming, consumerism, environmental degradation and many others.
Despite the many differences between the two art forms: “If with Street Art we mean anything creative that comes from the streets, I think it is important that we finally begin to take note of the fact that the urban context has generated a new chapter of contemporary art” - Rae Martini, an italian writer considered as a “living legend” of the european Graffiti.