People have been making graffiti for centuries. ‘Street art’ is the newer international term, dressing up this once-reviled practice.
Ben Frost’s example (shown below) painted on a wall in Brisbane, Australia, rips off Roy Lichtenstein as shamelessly as Lichtenstein ripped off the comics. The aim of Mr. Frost’s art isn’t ironic, though, but satirical. His ‘crying girl’ is funnier than Lichtenstein’s, and more topical too—one imagines the flat black slab of a beloved iPhone cradled against her ear.
With a background in graffiti and graphic design, Berlin-based installation artist Clemens Behr seizes opportunities in the streets of the cities he visits. Across Europe and the States it is not unusual to stumble by one of Behr’s tessellating sculptures. Mainly focusing on triangular shapes and using recyclable materials like wood and cardboard, Behr stakes out prime spots – subways, street corners, rooftops, billboards – and stews on a design for a couple of days before erecting the assemblage without warning or commission.
The style itself is, simply, busy and precarious. But the works can range from almost camouflaged, 2-dimensional paintings, to enormous structures of painted wood and cardboard, slotted perfectly into a corner, or standing proudly alone, like a bonfire nobody wants to light because the composition came out so beautifully.
Behr really stands out in the world of pop-up artists as one of the few who is able to blur the boundary between graffiti, design and installation art with a special kind of subtlety.
A Parisian artist who calls himself Zevs “liquidates” corporate logos by defacing signs with spray paint that suggests they are melting, and Disney, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are popular targets the world over.
Another Berlin’based artist, Aram Bartholl, has taken things further, constructing large, thin sculptures that imitate the tear-drop-shaped ‘pins’ of Google Maps, then setting them up in squares and parks in Germany, France and China. It’s like stepping inside your iPhone.
My favorite – Os Gêmeos (The Twins) are brothers Otávio and Gustavo Pandolfo. Based in São Paulo, Brazil, the pair has been painting graffiti since 1987, and their work has been a main influence on street art in Brazil. Their subjects range from family portraits, to social and political commentary, and Brazilian folklore. Aside from walls, Os Gêmeos also paint canvases, make sculptures, and are both graphic designers and photographers. Their work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cuba, Europe as well as numerous exhibitions in Sao Paulo and Latin America
And finally here ere are two examples of abstract street art in Amsterdam