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The 10 Best Street Art Books of 2018

Berlin-based specialized bookshop and gallery Urban Spree releases the list of the “10 Best Street Art Books of 2018“, a compilation of this year’s best titles. Although purely subjective, it reflects several trends playing in the book market:

 

– a renewed focus on the works of the pioneers of the 1960-70s through an academic approach;

– an increase in artist monographs which put more emphasis on their studio works;

– we have entered the era of “post-graffiti”

– but vandal graffiti and underground street art resist well the assimilation;

 

The list of the best publications of 2018 comes in no particular order.

 

1° John Divola: Vandalism

One of the most striking books of the year, “Vandalism” singles out itself by the sobriety of its approach.It consists of a black-and-white photographic series shot over 2 years in the mid-70s by the American photographer John Divola. Divola travelled across L.A. in search of vacant and dilapidated properties in which to shoot his project. Armed with a camera, spray paint, string and cardboard, the artist would produce one of his most significant photographic series, painting abstract constellations of graffiti-like marks, ritualistic configurations of string hooked to pins, torn arrangements of cardboard, and photographing it.

Vandalism” is not per se a “street art book” but rather a photobook crossing over both genres. The best example of a crossover book would be Bruce Davidson’s “Subway“, a series of portraits shot on the gritty NYC subway in the 70s where graffiti abounds but is only a sub-context, not the main topic (unlike Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant’s vernacular documentary photographic oeuvre whose main purpose is to specifically document graffiti).

 

Published by MACK Books, UK, in April 2018

Embossed paper-bound hardback

120 pages, 23.5 cm x 23.5 cm

Buy it here

 

2° Rafael Schacter: Street to Studio

“These are artists who are thus not slavishly reproducing their exterior practice within an interior realm but who are, rather, taking the essence of graffiti – its visual principles, its spatial structures, its technical methods, its entrenched ethics – and reinterpreting them with the studio domain,”writes Rafael Schacter in his introduction of his book Street to Studio.

We have entered the post-graffiti era. At a time where the graphic codes of street art are permeating most spheres of culture and entertainment, street artists have simultaneously enjoyed the favor of galleries and collectors and therefore have strongly developed their studio practice, when it was not in their ADN since the begining. What comes out is a blended space, where the artist works on both surfaces, the wall and the canvas, oscillating between different scales, the large and the intimate. Is this becoming a new paradigm in the art world?

The book introduces the concept of  ‘Intermural Art’ – art in-between the walls – to reflect that transition and has the merit of putting the emphasis on more conceptual players in the game (Brad Downey, Ian Strange, Boris Tellegen…) rather than usual suspects.

 

Published by Lund Humphries in July 2018

Edited by Rafael Schacter with a foreword by Carlo McCormick

Hardcover, 218 colour illustrations

224 Pages, 27 × 24,9 cm

Buy it here

 

3° David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake At Night

Beginning in the late 1970s, the American artist David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) created a body of work that spanned photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, and activism. Largely self-taught, he came to prominence in New York in the 1980s, a period marked by creative energy, financial precariousness, and profound cultural changes. Intersecting movements—graffiti, new and no wave music, conceptual photography, performance, and neo-expressionist painting—made New York a laboratory for innovation. Wojnarowicz refused a signature style, adopting a wide variety of techniques with an attitude of radical possibility. Distrustful of inherited structures, he varied his repertoire to better infiltrate the prevailing culture.

Wojnarowicz’s work documents and illuminates a desperate period of American history: that of the AIDS crisis and culture wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s. But his rightful place is also among the raging and haunting iconoclastic voices, from Walt Whitman to William S. Burroughs, who explore American myths, their perpetuation, their repercussions, and their violence. Wojnarowicz, who was thirty-seven when he died from AIDS-related complications, wrote: “To make the private into something public is an action that has terrific ramifications.”

 

Published by Yale University Press in July 2018

Hardcover, 384 pages

160 color + 100 b/w illustrations

Buy it here

 

4° BLU: Minima Muralia

Italian street artist BLU is one of the few street artists refusing to compromise with the art market, unwilling to translate his brillant art onto canvas, staying true to the origins of the movement – an underground, non-monetized, ephemeral, illegal & outdoor art practice for which the context and the meaning are the most important elements.

While Banksy excels in subverting the codes of the art world, BLU refuses them and strikes back, erasing the murals he painted to fight their monetization (Bologna, Berlin).

Minima Muralia” presents each mural painted by the artist during the last 15 years, more than 200 walls.

 

 

Published by Zooo Press in March 2018

288 full color pages

17×24 cm, lay flat swiss binding

Buy it here

 

5° One Week With 1UP

Which brings us to the last frontier within the realm of the urban arts: graffiti. “One Week with 1UP” is the second published book by and about the legendary Berlin-based vandal graffiti crew 1UP.  This time, the Kreuzberg crew embarks NYC-based legendary documentary photographer Martha Cooper and Berlin-based photographer Ninja K. in a series of underground actions, through tunnels, rooftops, featuring high pressure fire extinguisher tags, roll-downs, roll-ups, street bombings, whole cars and backjumps in a first-hand account.

1UP is the ultimate modern graffiti crew in the 21st century: large, everywhere, powerful, fearless, defiant, invisible.

 

Self-Published, Berlin, 2018

A project by Martha Cooper, Ninja K. and 1UP

English/German, 144 pages, 31 x 22 cm

Buy it here

 

6° Klone: “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”

Klone is an Ukrianian-born, Tel-Aviv based street artist, a pioneer of graffiti in Israel and a visual artist who was the first to exhibit at Urban Spree and one of the reasons why we did the space in the first place. I stumbled upon his fist published book – “Don’t Sleep”– in 2011 and was so moved by its personal content, poetry, freedom, that I wanted to meet the man and work with him.

8 years later comes Few Moments Ago I Was Here“,  looking over those past 8 years of exhibitions, mural projects, installation, and animations.

“Few Moments Ago I Was Here” is an artist book. By this, we mean a book which is mainly thought, designed, created and published by the artist himself. We always try to get as many self-published and artist books in the bookshop because they are precious and unconventional. Of course they are difficult to source, as we can get our hands only on a small stock, they sell out fast and we need to replace them but we can’t get enough of them.

 

Self-Published, Tel Aviv, November 2018 (Hell No Publication)

Limited edition of 500 copies.

Softcover. Full colour offset print on Munken lynx paper.

Buy it here

 

7° Ian Strange: Islands 2015-2017

Continuing on the self-publication mood and echoing John Divola, the Australian artist Ian Strange  publishes “Islands 2015-2017”, a photographic monograph documenting his interventions on American suburban homes, in the wake of Gordon Matta-Clark or David Wojnarowicz.

Through photography, sculpture, research, found artefacts and drawings, “Island” reflects on the home through the metaphor of the desert island, a place of personal sovereignty but simultaneously entrapment. “Island” interplays the monumental with the intimate and intangible. Exploring the icon of the home as a deeply vulnerable object and personal vessel for memory, identity and aspiration.

 

Self-published

Limited edition of 400 hand numbered and signed books with a concertina print

25 x 34 cm

Buy it here

 

8° Jan Kalab: Point of Space

“Point of Space” is the first published monograph of the Czech graffiti and visual artist Jan Kaláb, covering 25 years of his urban and studio creations, through multiple art forms (paintings, 3D graffiti, bombings, sculptures, installations).

Jan Kaláb started as a pure graffiti writer and achieved fame under the monikers “CAKES” and “POINT”. From there, his practice evolved to murals and studio works, sculptures and canvases and this evolution, patiently documented, is fascinating to follow.

The book was edited by the artist himself with texts by the czech art critic Petr Volf.

 

 

Published by Trafacka/Trafo Gallery Prague, in November 2018

320 pages

Hard Cover, 25 cm x 32,5 cm

Texts by Petr Volf and book design by Jan Novák

Buy it here

 

9° Swet: Book of the Year

 

One of the last published books of 2018, “Book of the Year” is a comprehensive monograph encompassing 1 year of walls by the danish graffiti writer SWET.

A graffiti “tour de force”, all the walls depicted in the book were painted in 2017 and amount to over 300 wall pieces, almost one per day, all of them documented in the book, including some sketches.

The book is bound with a piece of a canvas specially painted by SWET for this project and each book has a different binding, which also highlights the precise work of the dutch artisan publishing house Chemistry Publishing.

 

 

Published in November 2018 by Chemistry Publishing

First Edition of 500

240 pages printed on Munken Crystal Rough

Cover embossed with green linen, 24 x 28,5 cm

Buy it here

 

10° Russian Urban Art: History and Conflict

Street art books are usually more about photographs and visual documentation than text. Few history books actually exist on the graffiti and street art movements, let alone about a peripheral movement such as street art in Russia.

It is therefore the merit of the Russian artist and curator Igor Ponosov to examine the power of street art in Russia by exploring its historical background, extending from the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century, to the non-conformists and the actionists of the 21st century.

 

 

Self-Published, Moscow, June 2018

Edition of 500

Hardcover, 20 x 15 cm, 96 pages, English

Buy it here

 



Tavar Zawacki: Metamorphosis

Urban Spree Galerie is proud to present “Metamorphosis”, a solo exhibition by visual artist Tavar Zawacki in Berlin.

Zawacki will be presenting a museum style solo exhibition of twelve large format works on canvas with his signature hard edge painting style.

The opening reception will take place on the 7th of September 2017 at 19:00 at Urban Spree Galerie, Revaler Str. 99, Berlin-Friedrichshain together with the release of his second monograph, “Metamorphosis”, a 168-page book published by Urban Spree Books.

Runtime: 8th of September – 14th of October, 2017.

The exhibition will display only large format originals and marks a clear new direction for the artist.

The intention for the Metamorphosis exhibition was to transition into newer areas of my creativity with a fearless attitude. The past year I decided to slow down, and focus my attention inwards. My priority was to observe previous styles of artworks I had painted, and take them to a higher, more refined level. During this introspective period I was surprised to find that I had many barriers in my creativity that blocked my true visual style from being seen. It was disturbing for me to realize that I’ve been very fearful, and self conscious with my creative process. Metamorphosis is about transformation from one state into a newer dynamic one. With a lot of brutal honesty, and conviction for growth I was able to take inner inventory of what no longer served me. I was able to let go of the fears that were stifling my creative progression. I was prepared for feeling uncomfortable during this metamorphosis. I was learning how to unblock my personal censors, and be valiant in painting the styles of works I’ve previously been too reluctant to paint.

The Metamorphosis exhibition focuses on four different, and distinct styles of painting. Each painting style has it’s own unique personality. As a collective whole these twelve works on canvas best encompass my current interests of painting styles in my career. The restricted black and white designs display my attraction in sharp contrasting Op-Art visual effects. On the contrary, the CMYK designs are full of color achieved from overlapping secondary and tertiary shapes. The painting style of trompe l’oeil  has been a highlight of mine during this creative process. The manipulation of shadows, and illusion of depth added a nice dimensional element to Metamorphosis body of work. The fourth, and final painting style examines the relationship between both straight, and curved lines. The intention for this style was to have a balance within each of these defined compositions.

During the designing process of this exhibition I had achieved my goals of stepping out of my creative comfort zone, while pushing forward in these aforementioned styles of my creative interest. Thank you and I hope you enjoy the show.” Tavar Zawacki, July 2017

In addition to the exhibition, Urban Spree Books publishes “Metamorphosis“, a 168-page monograph retracing the latest works and murals of the artist.

Last but not the least, a screen print is being released for the show in a standard black-and-white edition as well as a very limited large silver and gold edition in a run of 5.

 

The pdf catalogue of the show is now available upon request by writing to: galerie@urbanspree.com

 

About the artist:

Tavar Zawacki (b. 1981), is a Californian born, Berlin-based contemporary artist. Tavar Zawacki under his then street name, ABOVE, was one of the main pioneers and influencers in the development of the Street Art movement in Paris in 2001. His proliferation of his arrow icon trail-blazed the way for later generations of street artists using iconography, logos, and abstract artworks in the street. During the past 20 years Tavar has proliferated his artworks in over 100 cities spanning 50 countries around the world. His style is characterized by the use of bold colors, geometric patterns, Op Art elements, and trompe l’oeil illusion effects. Tavar Zawacki has been showcasing his work in galleries and institutions around the world since 2005. He is a resident of Urban Spree since 2 years.

http://www.tavarzawacki.com

 

Metamorphosis

Opening: Thursday, September 7th, 2017 at 19:00

Exhibition: 8th of September – 14th of October, 2017

Tuesday-Sunday 12:00 – 19:00 and with appointment

Urban Spree Galerie

Revaler Str. 99

10245 Berlin

 

Gallery Enquiries: pascal@urbanspree.com

Press Enquiries: diana@urbanspree.com



Olivier Panama: Dogs & Gods

Urban Spree Galerie invites you to the opening of the 2017 gallery season with an exhibition by the French Berlin-based sculptor Olivier Panama and his fantastic ceramics bestiary.

Inspired by our egomaniac pop culture and ancestral funeral rituals, Olivier Panama glorifies in his white and golden ceramic works the remain of celebrities with his particular sense of humor. His previous piece Brad and Angelina a Timeless Tales is a pair of oversized ceramic skeletons tribute to the It-couple and still life. Taking away with art history, Olivier Panama reveals unexpected details such as plastic surgery or jewellery and questions the vanishing of our vanity.

DSC_3084

 

Evoking the curiosity cabinet of the 18th century taxidermist Fragonard as much as Madame Tussaud, DOGS & GODS exalts in detail the most fashionable accessories of all times, the celebrities’ pets! From the Egyptian god of the death Anubis to Paris Hilton’s companion Tinkerbell, the exhibition interprets an extravagant vision of the afterlife filled with lush costumes and golden smile.

DSC_3074

Conceived in collaboration with the rising fashion designer Tata Christiane, this installation opposes the dead animals with lively clothes in a surprising fusion where the baroque aesthetics flirts with a biting Bling Bling. Filling the object with symbols, the gift shop at the core of the exhibition will present a selection of relics made by Tata Christiane and Gold Berlin Design to cross the Styx in style.

DSC_3071

The animalistic figures are the guardians of a fantastic and ironic tombstone where life is magnified by materiality and gold is immortality.

DOGS & GODS will also mark the re-opening of the Urban Spree Shop for 2017. The Urban Spree Bookshop is located in the gallery and displays a hand-picked, organic selection of street art, graffiti and photography books whose common thread is a vision of cities, post-industrial & decayed spaces. The shop includes a large selection of screen prints made by local & international street artists, as well as locally-designed and produced screen printed T-Shirts.

Sound design by Pierre Hugues Hadacek et X-Ray cake by Ma Pâtissière.

 

Vernissage: 10/02/2017 from 18:00

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Exhibition: 10/02 to 16/02 except Monday

Opening Hours: 12:00 – 18:30

Urban Spree Galerie
Revaler Str. 99
10245 Berlin



Vandals, An Evening with Marc Vallée

Urban Spree Galerie invites you to an exhibition and talk with London-based documentary photographer Marc Vallée on the occasion of the release of his new zine Vandals and the City.

Vandals and the City Marc Vallee-2

With a forward by urban geographer Dr. Oliver Zanetti, Vandals and the City is Marc’s eighth self-published zine and documents a London graffiti crew.

Marc is best known for exploring the tension between public and private space in the context of contemporary youth culture.  His work is visually polemic and rejects the notion of impartiality.  Graffiti, defensible architecture, skateboarding and political dissent are just some of the subjects he has documented over a career of more then twenty years.

05022016_marcvallee_Graffiti-Writers-05.02.16_0194

Marc’s pictures, zines and books have been published and exhibited worldwide.  Both Tate Britain in London and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City hold his work in its library collections.

Signed copies of Vandals and the City will be available on the night and in the Urban Spree Bookshop.

 

Vandals, An Evening with Marc Vallée: Friday, July 22nd at Urban Spree Galerie.

The talk will be chaired by Berlin based academic Sandra Bartoli and founding member of Büro für Konstruktivismus.

Doors & Exhibition: 19:00

Q & A with Marc Vallée: 20:00

http://www.marcvallee.co.uk/

http://www.urbanspree.com

Sandra Bartoli is professor at the Master Program of Architecture and Urban Studies of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Nürnberg. She studied Architecture at the University of Venice (IUAV) and received a master in Landscape Architecture at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She was research associate at the Department of Urban Design at the TU Berlin (2009-2015). Her book about the Tiergarten in Berlin, in which aspects of ecology, urbanism, heritage and humanism are transgressed to converge in an urban model for the future, is forthcoming by the end of 2016.

http://wp.buerofuerkonstruktivismus.de

Oliver Zanetti is an human geographer whose research examines the interface of materiality and urban space. Oliver is currently a Research Associate in the Department of Geography at the Open University.

http://www.oliverzanetti.co.uk



“Vandals”: An Evening with Marc Vallée

Urban Spree Galerie is proud to invite you to an exhibition and talk with London-based documentary photographer Marc Vallée on Friday 22 July 2016 at 20:00.

On the occasion of the release of his new photographic project and photozine “Vandals”, Marc will show images that documents a small London graffiti crew in a city powered by neoliberal ideology and surveillance. The photographer is best known for exploring the tension between public and private space in the context of contemporary youth culture. The talk will be chaired by Berlin-based architect and professor Sandra Bartoli (http://buerofuerkonstruktivismus.de).

Photo by Marc Vallée, 2015. All rights reserved.

The work is visually polemic and rejects the notion of impartiality. Graffiti, defensible architecture, skateboarding and political dissent are just some of the subjects Marc has documented over a career of more then twenty years.

Marc’s pictures, zines and books have been published and exhibited worldwide. Both Tate Britain in London and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City hold his work in its library collections.

Marc’s other published zines (Tiergarten Transgression, Anti-Skateboarding Devices, Number Six, Writers…) will be available in the Urban Spree Bookshop.

http://www.marcvallee.co.uk

 

Vandals, An Evening with Marc Vallée: Friday, July 22nd at Urban Spree Galerie

Doors & Exhibition: 19:00

Q & A with Marc Vallée: 20:00

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The book is available in Berlin at Urban Spree and online.



Info

Urban Spree is a 1700 sqm artistic space in Berlin-Friedrichshain dedicated to urban cultures through exhibitions, artist residencies, DIY workshops, concerts, an art store and a large Biergarten.

Within Urban Spree, the Urban Spree Galerie is a 400 sqm independent contemporary urban art space. Set in a 70.000 sqm postindustrial compound in the heart of Berlin, the gallery benefits from its large urban grassroots ecosystem and offers its invited artists and photographers an ideal space for experimentation through ambitious on-site residencies. The gallery curates independent art shows on a monthly basis, which most likely include the painting of the whole compound and its flagship “Artist Wall“, a 15 m long x 8 m high wall surface facing Warschauer Str., one of the busiest arteries of Berlin, counting 100.000 visitors/day. Artists who painted the wall in the past include Above, Klone, Zevs, Broken Fingaz Crew, Twoone, Low Bros, Nychos, 1UP Crew, The Grifters, Peachbeach, Rylsee, m-city, Johannes Mundinger, Jim Avignon, Mik Shida, Anthony Lister and many more.

The Urban Spree Bookshop is located in the gallery and displays a hand-picked, organic selection of street art, graffiti and photography books whose common thread is a vision of cities, post-industrial & decayed spaces. The shop includes a large selection of screen prints made by local & international street artists whom we personally know. The Print Shop also offers an array of locally-designed and produced screen printed T-Shirts. To accompany our rich selection of zines and self published books, we launched Urban Spree Books at the end of 2016 as a new venture to promote self-publishing.

Artist Residencies are at the core of our artistic ecosystem. A mix of permanent, medium term and guest studios, the residencies irrigate by their creativity and artistic contributions what Urban Spree is about. Currently, our residents include Andrea Wan, Rylsee, Tavar Zawacki/Above, Johannes Mundinger, and the screen printing activities of Dolly Demoratti’s Mother Drucker.

Regular DIY workshops such as the monthly Make Your Own Sign powered by Rylsee and Klub7’s Otto Baum, engage our guests in creative activities.

Urban Spree’s Concert Room is dedicated to live music with a high level programming and a large musical spectrum from garage, psych rock to cutting-edge electronic music. In addition, Urban Spree organizes the Urban Spree Summer Sessions, showcasing the best street musicians that Berlin has to offer every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening in the Biergarten.

Urban Spree is home to many festivals and events, such as the Pictoplasma Festival, Krake Festival, ComicInvasionBerlin, Berlin SeaFood Festival, Amaze Festival, Midsommar Festival, Druck Berlin Festival, Berlin Graphic Days, outdoor screenings, diner events and many more.

The Biergarten is the place to chill in summer with its own selection of local and german craft beers.

Resident street food container units provide our guests with homemade food around the clock.

The Galerie and Bookshop are now closed until early March 2019 owing to the solo show of Futura – “The 5 Elements” – which starts on January 11th, 2019 and uses the whole gallery space (400sqm). 

However, the online shop stays of course open. We will ship new orders starting on January 2nd, 2019.

Please kindly note that the gallery doesn’t consider at the moment submission of portfolios and exhibition projects. Contact: galerie@urbanspree.com

For all questions pertaining to the rent of Urban Spree for festivals, conferences, caterings and workshops, or for any general queries, please write to contact@urbanspree.com

For all questions relative to musical programming, please write to booking@urbanspree.com. We don’t reply to booking requests submitted through social networks.

Press and Communication : contact@urbanspree.com

For internship applications, please write in english or german to internships@urbanspree.com. A good level of german is compulsory for applying to a gallery’s internship.

Other useful emails:

lost@urbanspree.com

jobs@urbanspree.com

 

 

Urban Spree – Revaler Strasse 99 – 10245 Berlin – Allemagne

Office Phone Number: +49 30 740 78 597