Street art and graffiti are a familiar sight in cities around the world. Neighbourhoods painted with murals are popular with tourists and tagged walls become backdrops for fashion shoots and music videos. Banksy is a global celebrity whose work sells for astonishing prices. Millions of photographs of street art are saved on smartphones, uploaded to social media, and displayed on T-shirts and other merchandise. But are street art and graffiti the same thing? Or do they have different histories, meanings, and practitioners? Who makes street art? Who buys it? Can it be exhibited in a gallery or must it be located on the street? Why have museums started collecting street art? Is there a commercial market for street art? And will it even exist in the future?
This strikingly illustrated book explores every aspect of street art, from making and photographing, to stealing and selling it. Artists working in the streets reveal both their passion for street art and ambivalence about its commodification. The rise, fall and rise again of street art in the art market is told through revealing encounters with collectors and auction houses in Paris, London, Melbourne and beyond.
Based on twenty years of research in the graffiti and street art scenes, Street Art World is the first book to provide a history and context for the words and images that appear in cities all around the world. Inviting the reader into a realm that is usually hidden, it will enthrall all those who enjoy this global phenomenon.
‘Strikingly illustrated from cover to cover, this well-arranged and intelligently researched text offers authoritative and comprehensive insight into this ubiquitous yet mysterious world. Tracing street art from its origins through to modern commodification, the text is a testament to its author’s unflagging dedication to the subject . . . This highly recommended publication strikes a pleasing balance between coffee table book and reference text and belongs on the bookshelves of casual art lovers and aficionados alike.’ – Marianne de Pierres blog
‘Young takes us on a brilliant tour of street art, from graffiti upstart to art world darling. At once insightful, comprehensive, accessible and copiously illustrated, Street Art World is must-read introduction to this significant new cultural phenomenon.’ – Professor Iain Borden, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
‘Young has been a peripatetic chronicler of free-range art for two decades. In Street Art World she weaves, through both exacting prose and evocative imagery, a captivating story about how this illicit and ephemeral place-making activity is undertaken, commodified and reinvented night after night in the world’s most contested aesthetic battlegrounds – our city streets.’ – Dr Bradley L. Garrett, University of Southampton
‘How Street Art evolved till today is a complex story with many paradoxes at play at all times. Young’s elegant yet plainly spoken examination and treatment gives the reader clarity on the artists’ motivations to put their art in the street, society’s ever-changing attitudes toward it, and the rather stunning impact it is having on neighborhoods and our ideas about contemporary art around the globe.’ – Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo, Co-Founders, Brooklyn Steet Art (BSA)
‘Alison Young has a great depth of knowledge about street art, the artists who make it, and the cities that contain it. She’s curious and passionate about her subject. But what makes this book so special is Young’s analysis of how this all plays in the market place, and her clear-eyed take down of the commercial art world.’ – Sophie Cunningham, author of Melbourne (City series)
‘How do you begin to describe a decentralised movement which is evolving in real time, largely secretive and constantly being erased. In Street Art World Alison Young achieves something remarkable; a well written, comprehensive study of this vast movement as told through it’s central figures. Street Art World is well-researched and smart, written by someone who truly understands the nuances of this vast artist community.’ – Ian Strange, artist
‘Alison Young has gone to great lengths to research the totality of street art, from the internationally recognized names, to the silent practitioners of sub genre styles. The scope of her knowledge is laid bare for the reader in Street Art World, a wonderfully comprehensive and accessible look at the inner machinations of an often insular practice . . . it looks at the inner workings of an international art movement finally coming into its own. AlisonYoung’s deeply felt affinity for the genre and its practitioners gives her writing a sincerity and nuance that guides the reader through the many aspects of street art that the artists themselves debate on a daily basis.’ – Jordan Seiler, PublicAdCampaign
Alison Young is Francine V. McNiff Professor of Criminology at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of Street Art, Public City (2014), Street/ Studio (2010) and Judging the Image (2005).