Graffiti’s Long Lineage Welcomes You In

At our Instagram SignLaboratory, we post a lot of graffiti: messages scribbled by valiant, expressive, anonymous souls as they move around the city. It is a fine practice: seizing a moment to scratch a subversive message. They are, more often than not, uplifting.

We hadn’t thought of the lineage of graffiti until a friend showed us Brassaï Graffiti,a book of images the great photographer started making in the 1930’s of messages  etched and carved in walls around France, gradually reworked, revised over time using other mostly crude media.

Estate of Brassai

Estate of Brassai

He was smitten with it.

The Estate of Brassai

The Estate of Brassai

The practice of making graffiti is, in truth, ancient. This animal carved into a wall of the Kom Ombo temple in Egypt c. 180 BC  echoes the one Brassai found, above.

ancient graffito Kom_Ombo temple Egypt

A graffito caricature of a politician found on a wall in ancient Pompeii makes us realize little has changed in the art of being human.

Jebulon

Jebulon

We can’t help seeing the cave paintings of Altamira and Lascaux as graffiti that proclaim “I am here!”

 Leticia Gaedon Bradford

Leticia Gaedon Bradford

Graffiti can be elaborate and carefully plotted, like the work of Banksy…

Banksy

Banksy

…or as simple as this tiny poweful message written on rusty gate…

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

No matter how modest, graffiti is always an act of liberation and VOICE as we discovered the day we picked up a Sharpie found in the park, and wrote our first message (it’s still there, 6 months later)…

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

We recommend carrying a marker, a piece of chalk, a favorite sticker… as you go about your day, to write a message, a word of encouragement or outrage or hope…

The Estate of Brassai

The Estate of Brassai

…and see what happens…

 

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