Is Graffiti Art or Vandalism?
Contributed by: Whitney Billings - El Paso -11/28/2012
Is Graffiti Art or Vandalism? This question has been in debate internationally for a while now. While the London artist Banksy is praised for his street art, another artist that goes by the name Tox (also of London) was convicted for his art being a crime. During his trial he was mocked by saying “He is no Banksy”. The difference between these two artists is that Tox signs his name with the last two digits of the year. Banksy on the other hand paints murals and images, most of which are political.
The signing of a name is recognized as a form of tagging rather than a form of art. Gangs to claim their territory, or make a statement that they were present in that location have been known to use tagging. So tagging has developed an association with gang activity and is frowned upon.
However, we are entitled to freedom of speech and artistic expression. We are constantly reminded within all art communities “Art is in the eye of the beholder”. America seems to have a love hate relationship with street art. While some artists are praised others are condemned. There is no doubt that when you compare Banksy to Tox that there is substantial difference in meaning and depth. But non-the less both are recognized as artists.
In 2011 Tox was charged with 13 counts of criminal damage and convicted for 7 counts. A Banksy piece turned up just walking distance from where Tox was believed to live. It is in great debate if this art piece was in tribute to his fellow artist or simply a joke at the expense of Tox.
Graffiti was first introduced to the U.S in the 1970’s in Suburban New York. While some consider it vandalism others consider is beautiful artistic expression. In Brooklyn they offer Art appreciation tours that include some Street Art. While in Atlanta in 2011 the Graffiti Task Force was formed. Many were arrested and convicted.
Some spectators have been known to say that part of the appeal is that this form of art cannot be bought. Some of the authentic art may be painted over with starch white paint and forever forgotten. Other pieces will be seen and recognized by millions.
Is Graffiti Art? “Graffiti is a form of Painting. Therefore Graffiti is of painting as painting is of art.” -unknown
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