Understanding street art

Series of five theory classes

This series of classes offers a thorough look through the history of street art, from the sixties until today. It analyses the inner workings of its practice, and the dimensions of the experience of its viewer. It ends by looking at some outsider artists working in the street.

11. Street art, from the sixties to the eighties

In the sixties, tactics such as performance or land art allowed artists to break away from conventional art practices. This same impulse also generated many other experiments we would now call street art. Approaches and tactics believed to be crucial findings of the present generation were actually tested in depth in the sixties and seventies by isolated artists. The first wave of street art appeared in the eighties from the confluence of contemporary art with outdoor advertising, graffiti and punk.

12. Street art in the nineties

The popularity of street art ended abruptly with the eighties. The nineties saw very little activity, with the exception of a few scattered artists. The most significant of them were North Americans Revs and Shepard Fairey, who through that decade developed an extremely intense and visionary work which came to comprise a good part of the framework of the street art scene of the 2000s.

13. Street art since 2000

In the first years of the 21st century, the proliferation of broadband connections enabled the reappearance of street art, now a global, closely connected scene. This class studies the evolution of the scene and looks into some of its most significant artists. It uses their work to analyse the inner workings characteristic of street art, and the dimensions of the experience of its viewer.

14. Contextual works

Most street art is mainly graphic, and takes the form of series of pieces with which artists propagate their visual identity. Beyond this, a minority of artists do away with identity and seriality, and focus on producing site-specific pieces, anonymous and independent from each other. The emphasis placed on idea and analysis situates these practices close to contemporary art.

15. Art brut in public space

The terms art brut and outsider art refer to art produced by people unrelated to art conventions, often residents of sanitariums. The work of outsider artist tends to be bizarre and visionary, suggesting new, revealing ways of conceiving art. This class studies some artists of this kind who work or have worked in public space. For example, Tsang Tsou Choi, Alain Rault or Athur Stace. All of them oblivious to the art world as well as to the street art scene, and capable of coming up with radically new approaches in the interaction with public space.