graffiti at the Brooklyn Museum


In retrospect, just when the party got going it came to a screeching halt. Inadvertently, the exhibition reminds us that the high-low hybrid of grafitti didn’t produce particularly memorable art. Oh, there’s a sense of awkwardness that’s endearing, and bravura as the artists show off their chops, but the paintings testify to what emerged as a kind of “truth”–spray paint on canvas was never as good as the real thing happening in the street. Graffiti had to be tamed in order to function as proper art, and that was the beginning of the end.

Despite their efforts, the Brooklyn Museum contributes to the “dumbing down” of graffiti art by couching it as harmless child’s play. An immense wall, constructed dead center in the middle of the exhibition and accessorized with felt-tip pens, invites children to scribble and become little graffiti artists in their own right.

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