Art Term

Graffiti art

Graffiti art as a term refers to images or text painted usually onto buildings, typically using spray paint

Jean Dubuffet, ‘Hopes and Options’ 1971
Jean Dubuffet
Hopes and Options 1971
Tate
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2017

Graffiti art has its origins in 1970s New York, when young people began to use spray paint and other materials to create images on buildings and on the sides of subway trains. Such graffiti can range from bright graphic images (wildstyle) to the stylised monogram (tag).

Graffiti as such is rarely seen in galleries and museums, yet its aesthetic has been incorporated into artists’ work. Early exponents of graffiti in art included the French artist Jean Dubuffet who incorporated tags and graphic motifs into his paintings, and the New York artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring who could be defined as street art pioneers.

More recently, graffiti artists such as Barry McGee and Banksy have had their work exhibited in commercial spaces.

related terms and concepts

Art Term

Street art

Street art is related to graffiti art in that it is created in public locations and is usually unsanctioned, but ...

Art Term

Public art

The term public art refers to art that is in the public realm, regardless of whether it is situated on ...

Art Term

Public art

The term public art refers to art that is in the public realm, regardless of whether it is situated on ...

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selected artists in the collection

selected artworks in the collection

graffiti art at tate

Tate Modern Exhibition

Street Art

23 May – 25 Aug 2008
Street Art past exhibition at Tate Modern
FREE