Graffiti: Temporary and Anonymous Art

Speaking of art, I recently found myself inspired by Gotrainist’s recent “Is it Art” post, and kept thinking about some of the graffiti I’ve snapped over the years. I often really like graffiti – not the kind that simply defaces buildings, but the kind that has artistic merit and something to convey to onlookers. I think some of it definitely comes down on the side of art.

Here’s an example of one I photographed in Toronto over a decade ago, of an angel with an infant in the crook of his arm. It had been painted on a wall just off of Queen Street West.

Toronto graffiti

I love how graffiti can often liven up the cityscape, adding colour and brightness to old, forgotten, out-of-the-way walls. I regularly take photos of friends and relatives standing against a backdrop of graffiti, and it always adds a nice punch to the composition.

Here’s another one I shot last year in Montreal (on my phone camera). I don’t know if it’s an ad, or was commissioned, but there was no obvious indication of either when I looked at it.

Montreal graffiti

I’m often amazed by the sheer scale of graffiti, and always intrigued by its temporary and anonymous nature. I like that it has to mesh with or override the texture of the wall canvas. Maybe that’s why I’m often drawn to photographing it.

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2 thoughts on “Graffiti: Temporary and Anonymous Art

  1. I love the examples you’ve chosen, especially the one from Montreal. I’m also always attracted to these intense scenes of colour and creativity in the city. But I’m uneasy when I see it on private property or freshly constructed buildings. Strange as it sounds, graffiti is best on buildings or spaces that have been long forgotten or neglected.

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    • No, I totally agree. Artists that put their work on the sides of new buildings aren’t adding to the urban landscape. I prefer it when they beautify a forgotten wall, or somewhere that hasn’t had any care or attention. Like the art rehabilitiates it.

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