Are graffiti artists- social commentators, propaganda artists or vandals?
I find this question a little tricky to answer because it does depend on what you consider ‘street art’, as some people are intentionally out there to deface and ruin a public wall or building where as other artist are making these artworks to express themselves. I find that it’s just hard to distinguish a line between what is art and what is vandalism. To speak about street artists as a whole though I would have to say they are social commentators.
Keith Haring, born on the 4th May 1958 was an American artist and social activist who is well known form his response to the New York City street art culture through the 80’s. Haring expressed concepts of birth, death, sexuality and war through his art. His work was often very political and became quite a popular language in the 20th century. He was known alongside a bunch of other artists who brung elements pop popular culture ‘low art’ and non-art elements into the formal known ‘high art’ museum and gallery spaces.
The artists was well known for his use of clean lines and simple images giving a new life to figuration in painting. His cartoon like images also opened up a new pathway for undergrounds cartoonists.
He commercialised his work by creating a shop called ‘Pop Shop’ where he sold his artworks. With the arrival of this project he started reflecting on social political themes such as aids awareness, anti-apartheid and the crack cocaine epidemic.