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The Fascinating World of Street Art: History, Styles, and Controversies

Gianmatteo Costanza | Art

By Gianmatteo CostanzaPublished 9 months ago 3 min read

Street art is a powerful and captivating form of artistic expression that has flourished in cities around the world. From colorful murals to thought-provoking stencil art, street art has become an integral part of urban culture.

History of Street Art

Street art can trace its roots back to ancient times, with examples of public art found in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. However, the modern street art movement as we know it emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, primarily in urban areas such as New York City. Graffiti artists, seeking an alternative canvas beyond galleries and museums, began using public spaces as their artistic playgrounds. Early pioneers like Cornbread and TAKI 183 paved the way for the rise of graffiti as a form of self-expression in the streets.

Styles and Techniques

Street art encompasses a wide range of styles and techniques, reflecting the diversity and creativity of its artists. Graffiti, the most recognized form of street art, often involves elaborate lettering, vibrant colors, and intricate designs. Stencil art, popularized by artists like Banksy, employs pre-cut stencils to create detailed and impactful images. Other styles include wheatpasting, where artists use a mixture of wheat flour and water to paste their artwork onto surfaces, and 3D street art, which creates the illusion of depth when viewed from a certain angle.

Messages and Social Commentary

Street art serves as a platform for artists to convey messages and address social issues. Many street artists use their work to challenge the status quo, raise awareness about injustices, and spark conversations. Themes such as politics, inequality, environmentalism, and cultural identity often find their way onto the walls of cities. Street art has the power to transform public spaces into open-air galleries, engaging viewers and prompting them to reflect on societal challenges and aspirations.

Controversies and Legality

Street art exists in a realm of controversy and legal ambiguity. While some cities embrace street art as a valuable cultural asset and tourist attraction, others view it as vandalism and illegal activity. Artists often face legal consequences for creating street art without permission. However, the line between vandalism and art is subjective, and the perception of street art has evolved over time. Many cities have designated legal walls or sanctioned street art districts, recognizing the artistic value and positive impact that street art can bring to communities.

Preservation and Appreciation

Despite its impermanence, street art has gained recognition and appreciation from art enthusiasts and collectors worldwide. Some street art pieces have been carefully preserved, either by being protected by local communities or through efforts to remove and preserve them in galleries or museums. Street art tours and festivals have also become popular, allowing people to explore and learn about the vibrant street art scenes in various cities. This growing appreciation has led to a greater understanding of the cultural and artistic significance of street art.

Legacy and Influence

Street art has had a profound influence on contemporary art and popular culture. Artists like Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and Invader have achieved international acclaim, blurring the boundaries between street art and the traditional art world. Street art has also influenced advertising, design, fashion, and even the music industry. The raw energy, creativity, and accessibility of street art continue to inspire artists of all backgrounds and age groups, ensuring its enduring legacy.

Street art is a dynamic and captivating form of artistic expression that has left an indelible mark on urban landscapes worldwide. From its humble beginnings as graffiti on subway cars to becoming a global cultural phenomenon, street art has evolved, challenged norms, and sparked important conversations. As the world continues to evolve, the vibrant and ever-changing world of street art will undoubtedly continue to captivate, inspire, and challenge our perceptions of art and public space.

This blog was previously published on August 7, 2023 at

Mixed Media

About the Creator

Gianmatteo Costanza

Gianmatteo Costanza has been at the heart of the visualization revolution since its beginning. He moved to Silicon Valley and became one of the change-makers after arriving on the UX/UI scene. He values both front- and back-end development.

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