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Graffiti art


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A style of painting based on the type of spray-can vandalism familiar in cities all over the world and specifically in the New York subway system; the term can apply to any work in this vein, but refers particularly to a vogue in New York in the 1980s (several commercial galleries specialized in it at this time and a Museum of American Graffiti opened there in 1989). The best-known figures of Graffiti art are Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–88) and Keith Haring (1958–90), both of whom enjoyed huge reputations (and prices) during their brief careers, which were ended for Basquiat by a drugs overdose and for Haring by AIDS. Basquiat was a genuine street artist who ‘crossed over’ into the gallery world; Haring had an art school training but adopted a primitivistic style based on graffiti. Robert Hughes satirized them as ‘Keith Boring and Jean-Michel Basketcase’.

Subjects: Art.


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