Street art by Banksy in Bristol.
File:Streetart skore183 buy euro bonds.jpg
Sociopolitical street art mural painting by SKORE183 - "Bu¥ €uro Bond$" in Munich Germany.
Street art by WATTTS in Paris
Street art done by Smear in Los Angeles, CA in 2006.
"Divorced" by Morley in Los Angeles, CA.
Street art by Jacek Tylicki in New York 1982.
"Painting in the Global Tradition" by Ces53, a Dutch street artist
Mural by BLU - "Gaza Strip" in Praha
File:Tejn Lock On Street Art Hacksaw.JPG
"Lock On" street art (stencil and chained sculpture) by Danish artist Tejn
Owl, Mezer, Moss. Venice Beach, CA.
Street art in the old city of Prizren, Kosovo.

Street art is art, specifically visual art, developed in public spaces — that is, "in the streets" — though the term usually refers to unsanctioned art, as opposed to government sponsored initiatives. The term can include traditional graffiti artwork, sculpture, stencil graffiti, sticker art, wheatpasting and street poster art, video projection, art intervention, guerrilla art, and street installations. Typically, the term street art or the more specific post-graffiti is used to distinguish contemporary public-space artwork from territorial graffiti, vandalism, and corporate art.

Artists have challenged art by situating it in non-art contexts. ‘Street’ artists do not aspire to change the definition of an artwork, but rather to question the existing environment with its own language. They attempt to have their work communicate with everyday people about socially relevant themes in ways that are informed by esthetic values without being imprisoned by them.[1] John Fekner defines street art as "all art on the street that’s not graffiti".[2]


Whereas traditional graffiti artists have primarily used free-hand aerosol paints to produce their works,[3] "street art" encompasses many other media and techniques, including: LED art, mosaic tiling, murals, stencil art, sticker art, "Lock On" street sculptures, street installations, wheatpasting, woodblocking, video projection, and yarn bombing.

Traditional graffiti also has increasingly been adopted as a method for advertising; its trajectory has even in some cases led its artists to work on contract as graphic artists for corporations.[4] Nevertheless, street art is a label often adopted by artists who wish to keep their work unaffiliated and strongly political. Street artists are those whose work is still largely done without official approval in public areas.

For these reasons street art is sometimes considered "post-graffiti" and sometimes even "neo-graffiti."[5] Street art can be found around the world and street artists often travel to other countries foreign to them so they can spread their designs.


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The motivations and objectives that drive street artists are as varied as the artists themselves. There is a strong current of activism and subversion in urban art. Street art can be a powerful platform for reaching the public, and frequent themes include adbusting, subvertising and other culture jamming, the abolishment of private property and reclaiming the streets. Some street artists use "smart vandalism" as a way to raise awareness of social and political issues.[6] Other street artists simply see urban space as an untapped format for personal artwork, while others may appreciate the challenges and risks that are associated with installing illicit artwork in public places. However the universal theme in most, if not all street art, is that adapting visual artwork into a format which utilizes public space, allows artists who may otherwise feel disenfranchised, to reach a much broader audience than traditional artwork and galleries normally allow.


Some people consider street art a crime; others consider it a form of art. It is a borderline issue.[7] Street artists may be charged with vandalism, malicious mischief, intentional destruction of property, criminal trespass, or antisocial behavior and there different legal restrictions depending on whether it’s private or public property.[8] In some cities, it is unlawful for landowners to allow any graffiti on their property if it’s visible from any other public or private property. A 2012 research paper[9] from Hacettepe University tried to define street art as a type of crime, then examined it using criminological perspective with criminological and deviance theories, in order to understand and explain it better using an example.

Street artists

Many street artist have earned international attention for their work and have shown their works in museums or galleries as well as on the street. It is also not uncommon for street artists to achieve commercial success doing graphics for other companies or starting their own merchandising lines. Other street artists have transitioned away from street art to traditional gallery and museum exhibitions.

In 1981, Washington Project for the Arts held an exhibition entitled Street Works, which included John Fekner, Fab Five Freddy and Lee Quinones working directly on the streets.[10] Fekner, a pioneer in urban art, is included in Cedar Lewisohn’s book Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution, which accompanied the 2008 Street Art exhibition at the Tate Modern in England, of which Lewisohn was the curator.

The 1990 book Soho Walls – Beyond Graffiti by David Robinson[11] documents the paradigm shift in New York from the text-based precedents established by graffiti artists toward art in the streets such as the shadow figures by Richard Hambleton and the group of five young New York artists working collectively under the moniker AVANT.[12]

Key locations

While practically all large cities in the world, and some of the larger regional towns, host some form of urban art or graffiti, there are a few locations that are considered to harbour forerunners of particular mediums or foster a pioneering street art culture in general. Such locations often attract internationally known artists who travel to these locations to exhibit their works. The following is a partial list of the most notable locations.



In 2010 the New York Times reported that Moscow was increasingly becoming a stage for local and international graffiti artists. The Street Kit Gallery, opened in 2008 is dedicated to street art organizes nomadic events in galleries, pop-up spaces and streets all over Moscow. The 2009 Moscow International Biennale for Young Art included a section for street art. Active artists include Make, RUS, and Kiev-based Interesni Kazki (also active in Miami and Los Angeles).[26] In February 2012, the BBC did a story on Moscow street artist Pavel 183.[27]
File:Graffiti Panorama rome.jpg
Spray-paint graffiti on a wall in Rome.

Middle East

North America


United States

John Fekner, No TV, 1980, Jackson Heights, New York

South America


Festivals and conferences

Living Walls is an annual street art conference founded in 2009.[46] In 2010 it was hosted in Atlanta and in 2011 jointly in Atlanta and Albany, New York. Living Walls was also active promoting street art at Art Basel Miami Beach 2011.[47]

See also



  1. ^ Schwartzman, Allan, Street Art, The Dial Press, Doubleday & Co., New York, NY 1985 ISBN 0-385-19950-3
  2. ^ Lewisohn Cedar, Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution, Tate Gallery, London, England, 2008. ISBN 978-1-85437-767-8.
  3. ^ For the development of style in the aerosol paint medium, as well as an examination of the political, cultural, and social commentary of its artists, see the anthropological history of New York subway graffiti art, Getting Up: Subway Graffiti in New York, by Craig Castleman, a student of Margaret Mead, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1982.
  4. ^ As just one example of the potential overlap between the worlds of graffiti and advertising, note the Bronx-based group Tats Cru, whose members began as a subway graffiti crew, but whose work covered traditional neighborhood memorial walls, public schools, hospitals, representation at the Smithsonian Institution's 35th Folklife Festival, and included logo and advertising design for such corporations as Snapple and McDonald's. Some of their work can be found on their website, <>.
  5. ^ "Neo-graffiti" is a term coined by Tokion Magazine in the title of its Neo-Graffiti Project 2000, which featured "classic" subway graffiti artists working in new media; others have called this phenomenon "urban art." A discussion by the Wooster Collective on terminology can be found at
  6. ^ "Student art project is vandalism for a cause". The Herald-Times. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  7. ^ "Street art or street crime?".
  8. ^ Acosta, Rocky (22 December 2011). "Street Art - Analog Free Culture".
  9. ^ "Is Street Art a Crime? An Attempt at Examining Street Art Using Criminology". Advances in Applied Sociology. 2 (1). Scientific Research: 53–58. march 2012. doi:10.4236/aasoci.2012.21007. ISSN 2165-4328. Retrieved 28 Nov 2012. ((cite journal)): Check date values in: |date= (help)CS1 maint: unflagged free DOI (link)
  10. ^ Lewisohn Cedar, Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution, Tate Gallery, London, England, 2008. ISBN 978-1-85437-767-8.
  11. ^ David Robinson, Soho Walls – Beyond Graffiti, Thames & Hudson, NY, 1990, ISBN 978-0-500-27602-0
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Report graffiti hotspots", City of Johannesburg site, 28 June 2012
  14. ^ "South Africa: Hotel, Graffiti Crew Partner to Host Art Festival",, 16 April 2012
  15. ^ Interactive map for Street Art in Paris. See urbascope
  16. ^ Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces...
  17. ^ Donadio, Rachel (October 14, 2011). "In Athens art blossoms amid debt crisis". The New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  18. ^ "OTP's Guide to Street Art", Off Track Planet, October 20, 2011
  19. ^ Amsterdam Street Art site
  20. ^ a b c "Gatekunstens hovedstad" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 24.03.2010. ((cite web)): Check date values in: |accessdate= (help) Cite error: The named reference "" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  21. ^ "Fikk Banksy-bilder som takk for overnatting" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 10.03.2008. ((cite web)): Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  22. ^ "Populær Dolk selger så det suser" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 08.04.2011. ((cite web)): Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  23. ^ " – Graffiti og gatekunst i kulturbyen Bergen - Utredning og handlingsplan for perioden 2011-2015" (PDF) (in Norwegian). Retrieved 10.05.2011. ((cite web)): Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  24. ^ Posted by Eugene on September 29, 2011 at 4:00pm View Blog (2011-09-29). "Polish City Embraces Street Art - My Modern Metropolis". Retrieved 2012-07-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ "Poland - Street-art and Graffiti". FatCap. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  26. ^ Alice Pfeiffer, "Graffiti Art Earns New Respect in Moscow", New York Times, October 13, 2010
  27. ^ "Street artist 'Russia's answer to Bansky'". BBC. 8 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
  28. ^ Street Art Website, Spain Section. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  29. ^ "Has Banksy struck in Primrose Hill?". BBC News. June 11, 2010.
  30. ^ "Walking with Stik". Dulwich OnView, UK. 12 June 2012. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  31. ^ [Josh Wood, "The Maturing of Street Art in Cairo", New York Times, July 27, 2011]
  32. ^ "Arab Spring Street Art, on View in Madrid", New York Times, February 12, 2012
  33. ^ Wheatley, Thomas (2011-05-05). "Atlanta's graffiti task force begins investigating, removing vandalism | News Feature | News & Views | Creative Loafing Atlanta". Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  34. ^ Morris, Mike (2011-10-04). "Warrants issued for serial graffiti vandals". Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  35. ^ Larson, Nicole (May 13, 2011). "PHOTOS: Largest Street Art Collection Debuts At LAB ART LA". Huffington Post.
  36. ^ [1][dead link]
  37. ^ Jaime Rojo, Street Art New York
  38. ^ Seth Kugel, "To the Trained Eye, Museum Pieces Lurk Everywhere", New York Times, March 9, 2008
  39. ^ "History | Mural Arts Program". Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  40. ^ Hoff, Al (December 14, 2006). "Best Public Art: Sprout Fund Murals". Pittsburgh City Paper.
  41. ^ San Francisco Bay Guardian, January 18–24, 2012, p.22
  42. ^ Chloe Veltman, "Street Art Moves Onto Some New Streets", New York Times, May 8, 2010
  43. ^ Caitline Donohoe, "Wall Played", San Francisco Bay Guardian, January 16, 2012, p.22
  44. ^ At War With São Paulo’s Establishment, Black Paint in Hand", New York Times, January 29, 2012
  45. ^ Linlee Allen, "Street Smart | Auckland’s Art Bandits", New York Times, November 9, 2009
  46. ^ Guzner, Sonia (22 August 2011). "'Living Walls' Speaks Out Through Street Art". The Emory Wheel. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  47. ^ Living Walls website

Further reading

  • Bearman, Joshuah (October 1, 2008). "Street Cred: Why would Barack Obama invite a graffiti artist with a long rap sheet to launch a guerrilla marketing campaign on his behalf?". Modern Painters. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
  • Le Bijoutier (2008), This Means Nothing, Powerhouse Books, ISBN 978-1-57687-417-2
  • Bou, Louis (2006), NYC BCN: Street Art Revolution, HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0-06-121004-4
  • Bou, Louis (2005), Street Art: Graffiti, stencils, stickers & logos, Instituto Monsa de ediciones, S.A., ISBN 978-84-96429-11-6
  • Chaffee, Lyman (1993). Political Protest and Street Art: Popular Tools for Democratization in Hispanic Cultures. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-28808-9.
  • Combs, Dave and Holly (2008), PEEL: The Art of the Sticker, Mark Batty Publisher, ISBN 0-9795546-0-8
  • Fairey, Shepard (2008), Obey: E Pluribus Venom: The Art of Shepard Fairey, Gingko Press, ISBN 978-1-58423-295-7
  • Fairey, Shepard (2009), Obey: Supply & Demand, The Art of Shepard Fairey, Gingko Press, ISBN 978-1-58423-349-7
  • Gavin, Francesca (2007), Street Renegades: New Underground Art, Laurence King Publishers, ISBN 978-1-85669-529-9
  • Goldstein, Jerry (2008), Athens Street Art, Athens: Athens News, ISBN 978-960-89200-6-4
  • Harrington, Steven P. and Rojo, Jaime (2008), Brooklyn Street Art, Prestel, ISBN 978-3-7913-3963-4
  • Harrington, Steven P. and Rojo, Jaime (2010), Street Art New York, Prestel, ISBN 978-3-7913-4428-7
  • Hundertmark, Christian (2005), The Art Of Rebellion: The World Of Street Art, Gingko Press, ISBN 978-1-58423-157-8
  • Hundertmark, Christian (2006), The Art Of Rebellion 2: World of Urban Art Activism, Gingko Press, ISBN 978-3-9809909-4-3
  • Jakob, Kai (2009), Street Art in Berlin, Jaron, ISBN 978-3-89773-596-5
  • Lewisohn, Cedar (2008), Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution, London, England: Tate Publishing, ISBN 978-1-85437-767-8
  • Longhi, Samantha (2007), Stencil History X, Association C215, ISBN 978-2-9525682-2-7
  • Manco, Tristan (2002), Stencil Graffiti, Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-500-28342-7
  • Manco, Tristan (2004), Street Logos, Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-500-28469-5
  • Marziani, Gianluca (2009), Scala Mercalli: The Creative Earthquake of Italian Street Art, Drago Publishing, ISBN 978-88-88493-42-8
  • Mathieson, Eleanor & A. Tàpies, Xavier (2009): Street Artists, The Complete Guide.Graffito Books, London. ISBN 978-0-9560284-1-9
  • Palmer, Rod (2008), Street Art Chile, Eight Books, ISBN 978-0-9554322-1-7
  • Palmer, Gary (1996), Carpet of Dream, RJD Enterprises, ISBN 0-9632862-9-3
  • Riggle, Nicholas Alden (2010), "Street Art: The Transfiguration of the Commonplaces," Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 68, Issue 3 (248-257).
  • Schwartzman, Allan (1985), Street Art, The Dial Press, ISBN 978-0-385-19950-6
  • Strike, Christian and Rose, Aaron (August 2005), Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture, Distributed Art Publishers, ISBN 1-933045-30-2
  • Walde, Claudia (2007), Sticker City: Paper Graffiti Art (Street Graphics / Street Art Series), Thames & Hudson, ISBN 978-0-500-28668-5
  • Walde, Claudia (2011), Street Fonts - Graffiti Alphabets From Around The World, Thames & Hudson, ISBN 978-0-500-51559-4
  • Williams, Sarah Jaye, ed. (2008), Philosophy of Obey (Obey Giant): The Formative Years (1989–2008), Nerve Books UK.

Documentary films