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Graffiti (street art) at Tate Modern London UK

From:     art reviews
Category: Art
Date:     27 May 2008
Time:     05:24 AM


The clues is in the title: street art. Art for the street, art that looks good BECAUSE of the the street, all 
the clutter and graphic bustle of the street is played off by graffiti, the stab of an image hitting you from 
high up, or the palimpsest of tags and scratching on a bus shelter suddenly in the right light achieving 
an astonishing beauty. Other elements of course are the illegality, the illlicit thrill of the writer and the 
reader, and the ultra-competitive subculture of the graffiti writer, where, how many, how it looks 
according to their world's criteria, the result of which is a high evolved language, a complete aesthetic 
not always legible to normal folk, but a residue of which (the dexterity of tagging for example) may be 
revealed to us.

So although the big pictures on the Tate liven up the building, and the cup of tea drinking aztec? has a 
sly fresh humour, they suffer from the sadness of murals, big empty permitted pictures on walls, not 
graffiti. It is an inevitable result of the banksy boom that The Tate should entertain the bourgeoisie 
with official pictures from the global community of graffiti entrepeneurs, next stop a banksy show 
which would surely be the highest grossing exhibition in their history, and reach out across 
communities ticking all the boxes. On a very rainy day the Tate seems like the biggest drop in centre 
for parents and childrens, and their should be something beautiful about that, like in Rome where cats 
stray on Imperial remains, and every church contains or is a masterpiece, where great art seems 
casual, is part of daily life, but at The Tate Modern the big problem is that there is very little really 
wonderful art, and an empty shell in which people play and shop near mediocre art serves only 

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