In the late 1970s and early 80s, New Yorkers found surprising works of art appearing all over the city. You might turn a corner and find a wall on which a graffiti-tagged piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat had exploded, or discover Keith Haring had transformed the black paper on a subway advertising panel into an impromptu canvas for one of his white-chalk “Radiant Baby” drawings.
With their spontaneity, energy, and boldness—not to mention their bad-boy cachet—a generation of young artists transformed graffiti and street art from throwaway pranks into an established genre that critics and collectors take seriously.
Seth Carmichael traces urban art’s migration from sidewalks and abandoned lots to galleries and museums, moving from the 1970s to today and covering the scene in America and abroad. Pivotal historical and contemporary players such as Basquait and Haring, as well as Shepard Fairey, Bansky, Mark Jenkins, Cornbread, Blu, Faile and others are examined for their influence on both their peers and succeeding alternative artists. He’ll also look at the role that the contemporary art market, the Internet, and social media play in the practice and motivations of today’s urban artists.
Carmichael is co-owner of Carmichael Gallery in Los Angeles and New York and publisher of tasj, a contemporary art journal.
Take a look at the work of CON and AREK, local graffiti artists Tim Conlon and Dave Hupp as shown in a past Portrait Gallery exhibition.