GRAFFITI A NEW YORK - Andrea Nelli
In 1973, this phenomenon of graffiti runs rampant, reaching its peak that summer.
At the beginning of the year, the graffiti piece grows in epic proportions.
This innovation is owed to black writers from the Bronx like SUPER COOL 223, RIFF 70 (WORM/CASH),
and PHASE 2. The press defined this new genre as “Grand Design” but the kids called it Top to Bottom or more simply T to B, alluding to the fact that graffiti vertically covers the full height of a subway car.
The external of the train is no longer covered with small, monochrome writings of different sizes, but by a single, multi-colored graffiti. Some of these T to B pieces are so elaborate and complex in form that the
New York Times puts forth the hypothesis that they are products of a collaboration between professional artists and graffiti writers. In February of 1973, the Boy Scouts form an ecological program that attempts, in vain, to diminish the amount of graffiti by sending out teams of cleaners.
In January and February of the same year, the police perform 282 arrests. Still, the record shows two favorable interventions in graffiti art. The first is by an unknown artist in search of publicity, Tazio D’Allegro, who associates graffiti to urban waste and the aesthetics of “slop art,” a sort of pop art that shifts the lens from
the consumer to waste. The second intervention is by P. R. Paterson who sees graffiti as a spontaneous protest against the bureaucracy of the subway.
On March 26th, 1973, New York Magazine publishes an article by R. Goldstein that, in my view, discusses for the first time a series of interpretations of the phenomenon.
Goldstein announces that graffiti is the first authentic youth culture born on the streets since rock’n’roll in the 1950s . In the same issue of the magazine, painter Claes Oldenburg comments: “You are in a grey and sad subway station when all the sudden a graffiti train breaks, bringing with it the light of a bunch of tropical flowers.
You think: it’s anarchy, and you ask yourself if trains will keep working.
But then you get used to it”. The same issue of the New York Magazine depicts the
winning graffiti of the “Taki Award,” an award organized by journalists for graffiti writers.
Thus, a trend is emerging. It is significant that the journalist’s choices for the award fall upon two writers, SPIN and STOP, who the kids call toys, or amateurs.
author: Andrea Nelli - Graffiti a New York
curator: Andrea Caputo
graphic design: DD/MM/YYYY ddmmyyyy.eu
editorial management: Elisa Sabatinelli
images post production: Zum Studio, Milan zumstudio.com
text translation: Alyce Aldige
Proofreading: Gillian Price
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sound: “Uh Hmmm...” (by Sahy Uhns)
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