Ever drive by a street full of buildings or bridges that are covered in graffiti and wonder who did the artwork and what it all means? A new book by Rafael Schacter, The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti, provides an in-depth perspective on street art and the artists who create it.
The author divides the book into chapters covering specific parts of the world. He breaks down the immense amount of data included in the book first by the different cities and then by the various artists who created the street art and graffiti. He explores North American, Latin American, Northern and Southern Europe among a few others.
Some of the artwork detailed in the book comes from major cities around the world. Cities included in the book are New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Berlin, Stockholm, Madrid and Athens among others.
The street art explored in the book portrays some aspect of the the culture of each of the cities. In a very real sense it is also a world-wide travel book, allowing the reader to know the city, the artwork and the artist all wrapped up in highly interesting editorials written by the author.
The author includes a diverse group of artists and styles. Readers will find some of the street art to their liking and some may find a bit of it to be offensive and appear as nothing more than destructive graffiti.
Those that study art and in particular, street art, will recognize many of the artists profiled. Just a few of the artists the author writes about include Espo (Steve Powers), Faile (Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller), Mark Jenkins, Gold Peg and Spy.
The author writes, “The story of graffiti and street art presents us with an unimaginably vast arena. Both in terms of space, through its all pervasive global reach, as well as time, through its status as a practice that is as old as human culture itself, the act of writing upon walls (also known as parietal writing) is an equally ubiquitous and elemental act, one linked to the primal human desire to decorate, adorn, and physically shape the material environment.”
When the reader looks at some of the work, one of the first questions that comes to mind is how the artist accomplished such a grand scale piece of artwork all on his or her own. Some of the art is spread across subway cars, across the side of large buildings, in the middle of a high-rise, under a bridge or covering something much smaller like a fire hydrant.
One of the artists profiled used billboards to express his thoughts and images. Another used large words painted on the sides of buildings. Yet another painted detailed faces of people smiling or staring directly at the viewer. Some artists used large murals of animals, unknown creatures or comic book like characters.
This is a big volume and would make a great coffee table book. It will thrill the art enthusiasts because of the art samples included and the detailed history of the artists, the cities and the art itself. And, it will make a nice addition to a home or office library for a person who enjoys learning about art on an occasional basis. For others, it will give a new view of those images that can be seen painted on the streetscape when driving into most of the major cities in the U.S. and across the world.
The author has an enjoyable writing style that immediately grabs the attention of the reader. His analysis of the artwork is plausible and most agreeable. When first looking at the art on a page, the reader may wonder why it was included in the book. After reading the author’s explanation, the art takes on an entirely new meaning.
There are plenty of colorful photographs to illustrate the author’s view of some of the street art. Those readers who think that the graffiti is nothing more than an act of vandalism may gain a new perspective. Those readers that aspire to be a great street artist or deliver a message on one of the biggest canvases available, will be inspired.