Urban Art and Pop Art | Galerie Kronsbein
Urban Art and Pop Art | Galerie Kronsbein
Urban Art and Pop Art | Galerie Kronsbein

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About Urban Art

The term "Urban Art" refers to a contemporary art movement. According to the current state of research, it embraces artistic directions such as "street art", "graffiti", "post-graffiti" and is often used as a synonym for these. "Urban Art" also includes other aspects. However, since they are not closely connected to it, their inclusion in the definition is still a theoretical debate.  


Formal and geographical diversity, as well as limitless possibilities for content and subject matters are all features of the "Urban Art" movement. Thus it conceals a broad creative field for its protagonists. "Urban Art" is also characterized by a partial overlapping with "art in public spaces". This is the case with both in a legal / commissioned, as well as in antipodean and illegal / self-authorized matter. However, its urban presence is not necessarily one of the movement's identifiers. The long-established "Urban Art" presence in museums, galleries and private areas and the associated artistic production have already become some of its major aspects. The latter, in particular, led to the recognition of "Urban Art" as a stylistic phenomenon of fine art, and to an ever more intensive examination of it as the subject of research in many scientific disciplines. Another feature of "Urban Art" is the enormous media spread, which always contributes to its popularity. 


The origins of "Urban Art" lie in "Graffiti". The term "graffiti", which originated in the 19th century, was derived from the Greek and Italian words for scratching and writing. However, the term was not used in antiquity as far as the wall scribbles in Pompeii were concerned. In this sense, one usually means scratched or written readable ego-messages on walls. These could be catchy phrases, sayings, slogans and idioms, which have found residence outside on the streets ever since antiquity to the present days. These thoughtful comments on society often carry powerful and truly moving messages. 


"Graffiti Writing" was a second term, which spread in the USA in the 1960s. This testifies that the definition "graffiti" is older than the umbrella term "urban art". At that point, the message was one's own name and its presence out there.  Graffiti writing was less about the meaning itself. It was about the quantity, the quality, the style and the connection between all of these.  


The technical design of the graffiti is different when using spray cans, as opposed to text markers (tags). Spray cans are mostly used for pictures and craftsmanship pieces, markers are used when one aims for quantity or "tagging". However, insiders know that "tagging" in high-quality execution requires an extreme degree of craftsmanship. The level of complexity is concerned with calligraphy and gestural-abstract painting. It requires knowledge in those fields to understand the tag, in contrast to figurative explanations, which for thousands of years have shaped the human world of experience and are symbolically linked to the interpretations. In summary, it can be said that with both meanings of "graffiti" the name, the writing in style, quantity as well as quality are the primary intention: "I live, I am here..." The place is not only the street, but can be everywhere - thus also "Urban Art". 


On the contrary, as the name itself suggests, it is the "Street Art" movement that is location-specific. Further distinction lies behind the primary form of artistic activity of "street artists". It is about the way of communicating the messages, which takes place via pictures or intelligently submitted texts. There are many interesting controversies surrounding Street Art. Arguments within the ranks its protagonists exist even about the two-word composition of the term. Furthermore, some understand their creations more as anti-art and in this sense more of "Street", while others define theirs as a form of high-art. This must always be checked in the individual case, which does not make the task of the academics and critics easier. There is also a disagreement about the importance of street-credibility. While some of the protagonists consistently insist on the self-authorization of their production on the street, some do not even see the necessity of running the street art against such rules: they can be commissioned or not even appear there; some do both. Street Art was initially dominated by the media, and Urban Art also existed before it was academically recognized. Post graffiti is also circulating, but on closer inspection is less productive, since graffiti still exists. 


The Urban Art techniques include tags, designs, writings, pochoir (fr.) / stencils, or templates, stickers, posters, sculptures, installations and many more. As a special feature of writing, the placement of signs in the urban life is at the same time an overshooting of the limits of two-dimensionality. One of the visual strategies of the movement is therefore the connection between the images of the collective memory and often seemingly distant realities, which inevitably lead to new messages. Each piece forms a new kind of image, created by taking up already known artistic concepts and produces new meanings by reflecting the Zeitgeist. The subject matter of these new images can be anything: portraits, scenes with political and social criticism, fictional worlds. Urban art compositions are much richer than just murals, canvases, screen prints and sculptures, which the more contemporary forms of art reside on. On this basis, the transformation process then takes place "from the environment to culture". 





The beginning of graffiti was presumably in the time of the Second World War: Kilroy, a worker in a bomb factory in Detroit, wrote "Kilroy was here". 



The invention of the first aluminum spray can by Edward Seymour. 



Taki183 leaves his tag, so he distinguishes with his pseudonym in 5 New York districts - walls, trains, mailboxes as well as stairs houses serve as carriers. 



On July 21, the New York Times publishes a report on Taki183 and his imitators, triggering a viral wave. 



Anti-Graffiti Act of the New York Mayor Hugo Martinez founds the New York sales organization United Graffiti Artists (UGA), thus motivating Sprayer to paint pictures on canvas and then organizes an exhibition. 


Phase2 is one of the first to write his name in "Bubble Style" - meaning he used round, bubble-like letters and new symbols and decorative "designs". Designs are, for example, highlights that resemble small asterisks or light reflections. 



The term "wild style" was coined by Tracy168 - a new, difficult-to-read writing style, the letters being intricately connected. 



The year of the first Wholecar, the first completely paint- sprayed train car 



In Zurich, the first stickmakers from Harald Naegli have appeared/ He became known as the sprayer from Zurich. 



The gallery owner Stefan Eins opened the first graffiti art gallery "Fashion Moda Gallery" in South Bronx. 



Keith Haring paints his first chalk drawings in the subway in New York. 



Blek Le Rat is one of the pioneers of stencil art. He sprays small rats into the streets of Paris. 



The works of Keith Haring and Jean-Micheal Basquiat conquer the galleries. 



Shepard Fairey's "Obey Giant!" Campaign becomes legendary. 



Invader scattered his small mosaic designs across entire cities. 



Street art becomes legal. Festivals in Stavanger, Norway and Melbourne, Australia promote the decriminalization of street art. 



The British sprayer Banksy has become the world's most famous street art artist. 



By this year, works of Banksy have reached six-digit figures in Sotheby's auctions . 



The exhibition "Street Art" at the Tate Modern in London shows the world's leading Urban Art artists. 



Barack Obama becomes the President of the USA. Shepard Fairey designs the campaigns for Barack Obama with the words "Hope" and "Change". 



The first Street Art Fair "Stroke" takes place in Munich. 



The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles opens the exhibition "Art in the Streets". 


The first UrbanArt Biennial in the world cultural heritage Völklinger Hütte. 



The first solo exhibition of works by Banksy in Germany, Galerie Kronsbein. 



The first solo exhibition of works by the original father of the Stencil art Blek Le Rat in Germany, Galerie Kronsbein. 



The first exhibition of works by STIK in Germany, Galerie Kronsbein.

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