Born in the streets – New York city legends


I do not go to Paris very often – fact. Quality not quantity they say, well it was definitely quality this time.

‘Born in the streets’exhibition was one of a those events not to miss if you like street art and especially graffiti.

Huge walls outside Fondation Cartier, the venue for that exhibition, are flanked with all sort of graffiti that set the tone straight away: you know what it is all going to be about, graffiti, graffiti, graffiti.

Welcomed by some rather friendly (noticeable as we are in France and in Paris do I need to remind you?!) staff, off we go downstairs where it is all happening…

It starts like any normal exhibition would do by telling the visitor what it is all about – highlight of an artistic movement born in New York in the 70’s which quickly became a worldwide phenomenon. Styles variants, ideas and influences that make what graffiti is today will also be shown

I glanced to the right and bang they are right there – huge graffiti on the walls on both sides. A step back to to appreciate them fully, they are very cool indeed.

A digital installation, an old school movie showing street artist from New York at it in the 70’s, various photos by John Nahar,… – going great so far, loving the stuff I am seeing until my attention is sucked in by this door trapped inside that glass box and proudly standing right in the middle of the room. What the f…? I thought. It is Jack Stewart’s bathroom door with a million of tags or mini graffiti on it. I must admit I did not who he was so it is only after reading the board that I found out that he is the author of ‘Subway graffiti – an aesthetic study of graffiti on the subway system of New York city 1970 – 1978’ (re-published in 2009 ‘Graffiti Kings: New York City Mass Transit Art of the 1970s’).


Beyond the fact that this is defo a book I’ll get asap, what I had right in front my eyes was a piece of history with signatures of all the artists Mr Stewart got to interview! Masterpiece in its own right that was but also a battered door that if it could talk would probably keep you up all night.

I really tried hard to get a snapshot of the door but the venue staff wouldn’t let me so you’ll need to get the book where you’ll find a picture of it!

Onto blacbooks from legendary artists – Part One, Leed, Mad, Seen, Tracy 168, Quik, Lady Pink,… the list could go on and on. Again, a piece of history and an excitement for my now watering eyes.

Panels explaining and showing the different styles in graffiti- Bubble style, Wild style, Whole-cars, Computer style Rock, mention of the pioneer street art galleries all in New York and devoted to graffiti since the 80’s such as Fashion Moda, Fun Gallery or Graffiti Above Ground continued my journey in this giant souvenirs book.

‘Born in the streets’ did indeed told me loads about graffiti origins so it delivered on this but I will also take away what Joe182 said in his interview where he pointed out that back in the 70’s ‘tagging’ (the mother of the graffiti movement) was clearly dissociated with any gang activity or violence, it was an ‘art’ and just this. There were respect between artists and definitely peace amongst the tagging community.

Let’s hope it goes back to this.


Some of the featured artists: Flip One, Leed, Mad, Seen, Part One, Tracy 168, Quik, 12 The Wiz, Lady Pink, Kasez, Coco 144, Joe 182, Snake 1, Stitch 1, Mico, Riff 170JonOne, Barry McGee, P.H.A.S.E 2, and Evan Roth.

See gallery below + a video about NY graffiti artists

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