Art evolves and is always changing. We contribute to that by using technology, redefining genres, adding more to existing genres and in general, creating. We know various forms of art, from sculpture, painting, drawing, to music and performance art.

However, more recently, at least from a perspective of modern history, we have seen street art emerge. Street art is often defined as graffiti and more recently, murals. However, street art is more than just vandalism as most people see it, unfortunately. Here is a brief history overview of street art, to paint you a different picture.

The Beginnings of Street Art

One could imagine that street art probably originated in the early days of human history, but unlike today, paint was not available to everybody in pressurized cans until the 20th century.

Graffiti, however, has existed for millenia, dating back to prehistoric times. There are multiple examples of graffiti, but it was not until the 20th century that street art really came to life.

Notably, during World War II, various tags and graffiti started appearing on the streets of the war torn world. The popular thing to draw and write was a sketch of a bald man with a very large nose peeking over a fence. The phrase accompanying the sketch was Killroy was here. It meant a lot to the soldiers participating in the war, and unknowingly, they paved a path to street art.

The Hip-Hop Street Art

In the 1960s in the United States, due to the influence of a relatively new hip-hop culture, graffiti started popping up. Mostly done by the Latino and the Black communities, particularly in New York City, graffiti became a widespread issue for the government. At the time, the aerosol cans became available to the general population, making graffiti a possibility. Artists were then called writers or taggers, depending on the community. At first, the tags were crude and simple signatures, but as time went by, artists started using more complex calligraphic styles to express themselves. What were simple signatures became works of art with lots of interweaving colors.

Modern Street Art

What first was a way of communication and a rebellion against the government turned into street art in a couple of decades. Artists moved away from letters to more complex art forms in the 1980s. Murals started appearing, which is notable because what were once illegal actions were afterwards paid works of art.

Street art using three dimensional sculpturing also appeared, often shocking people. At some point, artists started doing clean art, by cleaning buildings from grime or dust and in the process of cleaning, making amazing visuals.

Today, street art still sees illegal tags, as well as paid murals, but it is not as antagonistic as it used to be in the 1970s and 1980s. There are various forms of street art, from yarn, paint, sculptures to 3D graffiti to be found on today’s streets and walls.

Street art began long ago, as most things do, but was mostly developed in the 20th century, particularly after the widespread availability of aerosol cans in the 1960s.

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