Full piece here (Hat-tip to Anthony Williams)
Before Banksy, there was Blek Le Rat:
‘Following the cut-and-paste technique of Dada-ist collages and the sourcing of commercial imagery in Pop Art, appropriation of visual material or pop culture images has long been utilized by street and graffiti artists. Le Rat continues this style of sampling in his more recent body of works, employing pop culture references and Old Master artworks in a series of graphic spray paint works on canvas.’
An interview here:
Hopefully, dear reader, you will indulge a few ideas that have sprung to mind, as clearly no one knows better what’s happening on the streets.
The first is the Youtube mashup, or in certain cases the sampling of music across different genres and styles, then cramming and crafting them back together into potentially new creations just by using the stuff of Youtube videos.
All this requires is access to a computer and the focus to really listen to music that draws one in. No particular musical training nor long years’ sacrifice is required. In fact, Youtube has some real practitioners out there, taking apart and putting music videos back together, sifting through an enormous compilation of free and/or cheap recorded music. The bar for being a D.J. just got lower.
The lower cost and easier availability of basic programs and equipment has spurred-on new genres of music, often driven by a few creative, talented and ambitious people and groups out to make something rather beautiful out of these component parts and their own experiences.
Hip-hop and 80’s synth-pop are just two examples.
The second idea that springs to mind is the shared history Youtube mashups, stencil artists like Le Rat, and graffiti artists might have with pop and modern art’s impulse to make meaning, often deeper meaning, out of what is at-hand in a large commercial society such as ours. All this takes might be a can of spray-paint, some basic technique, and a willingness to break the law where the law doesn’t often go.
On the higher-end, the art can be meant to spread and ‘democratize’ deeper artistic influences and ideas (a certain smugness there), while on the lower-end, a tag can be the nothing more a than a guy taking a piss on a wall with a spray-can. The high-low dynamic can be intoxicating.
Yet, there are beautiful things to be found, however, especially when and where one looks for beauty.
There seems a basic desire in us to make something that will last and that will endure, to copy what works, and to aim for beauty and try and transcend and give meaning to our own experiences and circumstances.
The need to discover and share meaning through aesthetic influence and preference likely isn’t going anywhere either. From gangs to high-school cliques to art houses, from individual taggers to the loftiest aesthete and critic, there’s a whole lot of judgment and self-identification constantly going on in human affairs through through the process of judging what we like and don’t like, which group we may be a part of and which we may not at any point in time.
Back to the piece:
‘Hugely influential on today’s generation of graffiti artists, Le Rat’s counter-iconography continues to cut across time periods, media, and styles while still paying tribute to the iconic works and masters he uses in his work.’
Images surround us in the form of thousands of prints, photos, comic book art, cartoons, advertisements etc that first drove a lot of modernism and its subsequent reactions in Pop Art.
Robert Hughes really didn’t like the lack of acquired skill and mastery of materials many moderns lack.
There have been a lot of virulent reactions to ‘modern’ life and technology ranging from utopian futurism to nihilism to consumerism and a kind of dejected anti-consumerism and spiritual malaise.
Camille Paglia wants to tilt the culture more towards art education, but manages to resist the more virulent strains of secular ideology filling the modern hole, pushing back against the radicalism of feminist ideology when it encroaches upon aesthetics:
You don’t need Debussy when you’ve got Paul Mauriat.
What if eternity is listening to well-done orchestral elevator music?
So, You’re Telling Me What’s Cool?-Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Banksy In Neverland’ What are these people doing with art?: Often combining them with a Left-of-Center political philosophy as they are at NPR for popular consumption.