Cities have been a significant source of inspiration for artists throughout history, including in the genres of graffiti art and pop art. Graffiti art, in particular, has been used as a means of expressing social and political commentary on urban life, while pop art has been known to celebrate consumerism and the visual culture of cities. This essay explores how cities have been a central theme in both graffiti art and pop art, highlighting the ways in which artists have used these genres to reflect on and critique urban life. Graffiti art is a form of street art that emerged in the late 1960s in urban centers like New York City. Initially associated with gang activity and vandalism, graffiti art has since evolved into a recognized art form that is celebrated for its vibrant colors, bold lettering, and striking imagery. In many ways, graffiti art is a reflection of the cities in which it is created, as it often draws inspiration from the urban landscape and the social and political issues that define urban life. One of the ways that graffiti artists have used the city as a theme is by commenting on the social and economic inequalities that are often present in urban areas. For example, the artist Banksy is known for creating politically charged pieces that critique the gentrification of cities and the displacement of lower-income residents. In his piece "Kissing Coppers," which depicts two police officers kissing, Banksy is commenting on the perceived corruption of law enforcement and their role in maintaining the status quo in urban areas. Similarly, many graffiti artists have used their work to highlight the impact of globalization and consumerism on urban life. In his piece "The Death of Graffiti," artist Zephyr depicts a spray can lying on the ground, surrounded by logos of corporate brands like Coca-Cola and McDonald's. The piece is a commentary on the commercialization of art and the homogenization of culture in urban areas. In contrast, pop art celebrates the visual culture of cities and the consumerism that defines urban life. Pop art emerged in the 1950s and 1960s as a response to the rise of mass media and advertising, which inundated urban spaces with images of consumer goods and popular culture icons. Artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg celebrated this visual culture by incorporating popular imagery into their artwork. One of the ways that pop artists celebrated the city was by depicting its iconic landmarks and symbols. For example, Roy Lichtenstein's "Crying Girl" features a woman crying in front of a city skyline, while Andy Warhol's "Empire" depicts the Empire State Building. These works celebrate the grandeur and beauty of urban spaces, while also highlighting the impact of mass media and advertising on the cityscape. In addition to celebrating the visual culture of cities, pop art also critiqued consumerism and the commodification of culture. Artists like Claes Oldenburg created sculptures of everyday objects like hamburgers and typewriters, highlighting the ways in which consumer goods were becoming increasingly important in American culture. Similarly, Warhol's repeated images of Campbell's Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles are a commentary on the ubiquity of these products in American society. Cities have been a central theme in both graffiti art and pop art, reflecting the social and political issues that define urban life. Graffiti artists have used their work to comment on the social and economic inequalities that are often present in urban areas, while pop artists have celebrated the visual culture of cities while critiquing consumerism and the commodification of culture. Whether celebrating the grandeur of urban landmarks or critiquing the impact of globalization and commercialization on urban spaces, both graffiti art and pop art offer powerful reflections on the role of cities in our lives.
Chris RWK- Robots Will Kill On a Heartbeat Original Street Sign Painting by Chris RWK
Purchase On a Heartbeat Original Mixed Media Painting Graffiti Artist Modern Pop Art on Real Metal Street Sign by Chris RWK. 2022 Signed Original Mixed Media Acrylic & Spray Paint on Real 30x30 Street Stop Sign Immersed in various mediums, Chris began to store the images brought forward though these everyday experiences in what he refers to as a “mental journal”. This journal was a haven of his thoughts that he could refer back to whenever necessary.
Cope2- Fernando Carlo Double Sided Exit Original Street Sign Graffiti Painting by Cope2- Fernando Carlo
Purchase Double-Sided Exit Sign Art Mixed Media on MTA Signage Painting Artwork by street pop culture artist Cope2. Born in 1968 as Fernando Carlo, Jr. in New York City. Cope 2’s paintings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the United States and internationally. He is a self-taught artist who is a celebrated legend contributing over 30 years to the graffiti street-art culture. One of New York City’s most prolific graffiti artists, he began tagging his name in the South Bronx in 1978. He developed his style in the subways and streets of the Bronx creating graffiti productions throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s achieving international recognition for his distinctive style. The beginning of the new millennium found Cope2 in a different place in his career, as he started focusing more and more on ways to establish himself in the art scene of galleries and museums. Even though the artist had started working on canvas much earlier than the 2000s, it was then that he made this dynamic twist and agreed to exhibit indoors systematically. Whether you see graffiti as an expressive and lively form of art or as a form of irresponsible vandalism, one thing is certain; in recent years it has captured the attention of the general population to the world’s biggest galleries.
Chris RWK- Robots Will Kill Stand Alone Original Street Sign Painting by Chris RWK
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Cope2- Fernando Carlo 2 7 Avenue Line OTboys Silver Original Street Sign Graffiti Painting by Cope2- Fernando Carlo
Purchase 2 7 Avenue Line OTboys- Silver Sign Art Mixed Media on MTA Signage Painting Artwork by street pop culture artist Cope2. Born in 1968 as Fernando Carlo, Jr. in New York City. Cope 2’s paintings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the United States and internationally. He is a self-taught artist who is a celebrated legend contributing over 30 years to the graffiti street-art culture. One of New York City’s most prolific graffiti artists, he began tagging his name in the South Bronx in 1978. He developed his style in the subways and streets of the Bronx creating graffiti productions throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s achieving international recognition for his distinctive style. Fernando Carlo a.k.a COPE2 is an American artist, active in the graffiti scene of New York. Cope2’s involvement in the street art scene of the 80s and 90s progressively made his reputation grow, making him one of the most well-known writers in the US. Controversial, yet iconic, the artist’s story and his involvement in graffiti since the last decades of the 20th century shed light on the history of graffiti itself and its evolution over the years.
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Eddie Colla Cacophony Laser Cut Acrylic Archival Print by Eddie Colla
Purchase Cacophony Hand-Painted Multiple Archival Pigment Print on 3 Tiers of Laser-Cut Acrylic Panel ready to hang by Eddie Colla graffiti street artist modern pop art. 2020 Signed & Numbered Limited Edition of 25 Laser Cut Acrylic Artwork Size 18x18 "The Goldfish Girl was created almost a decade ago. I often revisit it, and she has been the longest continuing character I've created. I often write backstories for these characters to help me create the pieces, but they are generally never shared with the viewer. The Goldfish Girl was born in mainland China and raised mostly by a single father. Her mother passed away when she was 18 months old from cancer. She was often very ill as a child and was eventually diagnosed with a compromised immune system disorder, although a precise diagnosis was never given. This is the reason for always wearing the mask and gloves. Her father bred Goldfish for a living and taught her that trade as a kid. They worked side by side and rarely had visitors because of her condition. Often being extremely ill and also losing her mother made her childhood difficult. As most children do, she tried to find a reason for her misfortune, a reason for why all this had happened to her and her father. Eventually, she believed that her illness and her mother's cancer were punishment by nature. A curse for toying with nature by breeding goldfish. Eventually, her father passed away as well. Needing to make a living and also to taunt fate she illegally immigrated to Hong Kong. There is a famous goldfish market in Mong Kok on Tung Choi street, but it's commonly called goldfish street. With a compromised immune system the most dangerous thing to her was other people. As a challenge to fate, she moved to one of the most densely populated cities in the world. She got a stall on Tung Choi Street. This is her challenge, to taunt fate and win, becoming the master of her own fate. These images are vignettes of her life in Hong Kong. I've never given the character a name. Sometimes she is pictured with a boombox because music becomes a central companion to her mostly solitary life. In the piece Cacophony I wanted her to literally be surrounded by the city. In some way, I think I tried to create a character that embodied a lot of traits I aspire to. To remind me.” - Eddie Colla
Cope2- Fernando Carlo MTA Subway Map Lime Green Purple Original Spray Paint Acrylic Painting by Cope2- Fernando Carlo
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Faile Modern Living- Brown HPM Hand-Embellished Silkscreen Print by Faile
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Chris RWK- Robots Will Kill Keep Moving Original Street Sign Spray Painting by Chris RWK- Robots Will Kill
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Faile Dancing Between Angels/ Love Stories B-Side Silkscreen Print by Faile
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