Political Graffiti: A Brief History in Images

capa_robert_623_1992

Robert Capa, [Anarchist graffiti, Santa Eulalia, Aragón front, Spain], 1936 (623.1992)

weiner_dan_752_1974

Dan Weiner, [Graffiti protesting the government's removal and resettlement of Africans to reserves, Sophiatown, South Africa], 1954 (752.1974)

pratt_charles_65_1996

Charles Pratt, Edge of City, 1960 (65.1996)

meiselas_susan_2008_86_4

Susan MeiselasWall graffiti on Somoza supporter’s house burned in Monimbo, asking “Where is Norman Gonzalez? The dictatorship must answer,” Nicaragua, 1978 (2008.86.4)

ries_henry_2_1991

Henry Ries, Brandenburg Gate, September 1989 (2.1991)

rodriguez_joseph_2006_43_43

Joseph Rodriguez, Estrada Courts housing projects, East Los Angeles, from the series East Side Stories: Gang Life in East LA, 1993 (2006.43.43)

GRAFFITI: Form of visual communication, usually illegal, involving the unauthorized marking of public space by an individual or group. Technically the term applies to designs scratched through a layer of paint or plaster, but its meaning has been extended to other markings. Graffiti is widely considered a form of antisocial behaviour performed in order to gain attention or simply for thrills. But it also can be understood as an expressive art form.

Concise Encyclopedia

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About erinbarnett

Assistant Curator, Collections at the International Center of Photography, New York
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3 Responses to Political Graffiti: A Brief History in Images

  1. wow. i was just talking with a friend about how magnificent some photographs of graffiti can be, just by the fact they snap a very brief – often fleeting – image.

    very beautiful images, thanks for sharing.

  2. Alexis says:

    These are powerful images. Thank you for posting. I have seen many similar to the Norman Gonzalez graffiti in Russia and Belarus.

    I photograph and write about similar political street art in the contemporary post-Soviet region:
    http://www.PostSovietGraffiti.com.

  3. Julie K. says:

    Great post and well chosen pictures to illustrate how large the street art spectrum really is.
    I agree with that broader definition and I would like to especially stress that graffiti can also play a very important role as it often encompasses a strong (political, social or cultural) message and as it takes some time to remove – people on the street see and think about it. Just one look at Banksy’s work is enough.

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