Urban art has taken the art world by storm, and it can be found in many art-centric cities in fairs and shows. However, with the current boom, there are genuinely some outstanding examples of urban art worth giving special notice. The following are a few of some remarkable pieces, along with a few interesting tidbits about their creation or fascinating information about the artists who created them:
WORLDWIDE URBAN ART LEADER, BANKSY
Banksy Kissing Coppers was originally spray painted on the side of a tavern in Brighton, UK, this 2005 controversial work features two British police officers in a passionate embrace. After several instances of vandalism threatened the artwork, it was finally removed and transferred to canvas in 2008, replaced by a duplicate. The canvas was later sold in 2014 at Fine Art Auctions Miami for a whopping $575,000, proof that notoriety helps sell works of art.
ANONYMOUS ARTIST, ROA
Belgium street artist Roa shares his fascination with animals in his large-scale anatomically correct animal murals, having created them in multiple places all over Europe, including the ROA International Art Gallery. The details he achieves with the use of spray paint is breathtaking; his blend of scientific accuracy and artistic creation are used cleverly in his expression of animals, often focused on those native to the location he is working in. Exemplifying what urban art can do, Roa’s work in black and white voices his belief in supporting animal welfare and conservation.
TRAILBLAZER, KEITH HARING
American artist Keith Haring began his career in the NYC subway system. He started with a fine arts education, and after arriving in NYC embraced the local graffiti culture in the late 1970’s. He became notorious for the graffiti he created, which led to several arrests as well as a growing fan base. His 1986 mural Crack is Wack was successful in raising awareness of the ever-increasing addiction to the drug. Created during a time when the US government’s war on drugs had reached new heights, the work both solidified Haring’s influence on urban art and the depth of drug addiction in the US.
Smates (aka Bart Smeets) Great White Shark was painted on a concrete pillar in his native Belgium for the 2014 DayOne Festival and showcases his skill in painting vibrant dimensional works which draw the viewer into the scene itself. Having experienced some of the common challenges of other graffiti artists (negative attention and even arrest by the local authorities), he is focusing on paid work. It is interesting to note that he considers himself a painter and not a street artist.
SOCIAL ACTIVIST, SHEPARD FAIREY
Hope (2008) is perhaps the most iconic work to date by American urban artist Shepard Fairey, who created the work and later used it in support of then-candidate Barrack Obama’s campaign for U.S. president. Synonymous with Obama’s run for leadership of the US, Fairey has gone on to create other works which empower citizens to explore their personal beliefs and rally together to institute political change. A notable participant in the Street Art movement of the 2000’s, Fairey’s works can be found in such prestigious places as the Smithsonian and Victoria & Albert Museum.
URBAN ART ABOUNDS
The growth of urban art has provided an abundance of opportunities for artists platforms for showcasing works, both in public spaces and in more traditional art collectives. There will continue to be more stages available for artists to bring their message to the public, sharing both awareness and artistic talent. These urban artworks are outstanding within the space, and sure to inspire artists and art lovers.