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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

 



Urban Spree Books at Friends With Books

A week after the Unlock Book Fair, Urban Spree Books will participate on September 23rd and 24th to Friends with Books among 160 book publishers. The book fair is held at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.

Friends With Books is Europe’s premier event for contemporary artists’ books and periodicals by artists and art publishers. Featuring 160+ international participants and a series of public programmes: discussions, readings, presentations, performances, and art installations that explore the perimeters of today’s art publishing. Admission is free.



Urban Spree Books at the Unlock Book Fair

Urban Spree Books will be present at the first Unlock Book Fair in Berlin next weekend with 8 of our self-published titles, as well as a small selection of graffiti and street art zines and books.

Among our titles, we’ll introduce our latest artist book, “Metamorphosis“, released last week.

Unlock Book Fair 2017 will take place at ExRotaprint in Wedding on September 16th and 17th, 2017.

The Fair focuses on the thriving field of graffiti and street art publishing. After a successful first edition in Barcelona last year, the fair moves to Berlin with a special focus on North American railroad cultures: moniker graffiti, hobo culture, train hopping and freight train graffiti. 



Urban Spree Books publish “Metamorphosis”

Urban Spree Books is proud to announce the release of “Metamorphosis”, the second published monograph by the Californian born, Berlin-based visual artist Tavar Zawacki – and the first under his real name.

Metamorphosis is being published to coincide with the opening of the artist’s solo show at Urban Spree Galerie, eponymously titled “Metamorphosis”, on Thursday, September 7th, 2017.

At the time of his first publication (“Passport”, released by Zero+ Publishing in 2011), the artist was going by the street name ABOVE, and was held as one of the pioneers and early influencers of the street art movement. Relocating to Berlin in 2014, the artist went into a deep and creative introspection that led him the next year to divulge his name and face, instead of the high secrecy that has always surrounded his self. He was known never to attend any of his exhibition openings and erected anonymity as a cardinal virtue, and shadows as a tool.

 

“Metamorphosis” covers Tavar Zawacki’s last 3 years of creative works, from his seminal 2014 “Remix” exhibition in Detroit at Inner State Gallery to his latest and most ambitious show to date at Urban Spree Galerie in September 2017. The book covers all his outdoor murals during that period and illustrates how the artist navigates between his indoor and outdoor works and the influences thereof.

“Metamorphosis” is a very personal account of Tavar’s creative process and thinking, where painful disruptions are essential to create something new and meaningful.

Tavar Zawacki has been showcasing his work in galleries and institutions around the world since 2005. He is a resident artist of Urban Spree in Berlin since 2 years. His solo show, “Metamorphosis”, runs from 07.09.2017 to 08.10.2017 at Urban Spree Galerie in Berlin.

The book is published by Urban Spree Books and is available on the Urban Spree website here as pre-order and in our Berlin shop from the 07.09.2017. All orders will be shipped after the 07.09.2017.

We have a few rare signed copies of the artist’s previous book “Passport” available in the shop.

www.tavarzawacki.com



Top 5 street art & graffiti books of 2016

2016 saw a number of excellent book releases related to street art and graffiti in an ever expanding universe of specialized publications. Berlin-based gallery and bookshop Urban Spree chose 5 outstanding books published in 2016.

 


Wall Writers – Graffiti in Its Innocence

Edited by Roger Gastman

Published by Gingko Press

c01 Wall Writers fills an important gap in the segment of the historical approach to graffiti as it seeks to document the very origins of modern graffiti and wall writing at the source – New York City and Philadelphia in the late 1960s – and features in-depth research and interviews with major pioneer writers such as Taki183 and Cornbread with a lot of previously unpublished photographic archive.

Wall Writers explores graffiti’s foray into mainstream society in a period of social turmoil and tries to replace it in the culture of the time and up to its current status of a greater acceptance by the society as a popular art form. Alongside the 2012-published “bible” curated by Andrea Caputto “All City Writers“, Wall Writers is a reference book and research on the topic of the origins of the movement.

Wall Writers is also a documentary film written by Chris Pape and directed by Roger Gastman, released in 2016.

 


8697

by Boris Tellegen / Delta

Published by A Paper Book

15034715_1785472801691571_2663648574205591552_n8697 by the dutch writer & artist Boris Tellegen a.k.a. Delta is a comprehensive time-travel journey encompassing 11 years of black book production. The black books are sketchbooks where a writer sketches, pastes photographs of his pieces, polishes his style and makes research for future pieces. Those notebooks, oscillating between training and memorabilia, are rarely seen by the public and are however an essential part of the writer’s style evolution.

Boris Tellegen started graffiti in 1984 at 14 in Amsterdam and caught the virus while visiting the USA with his father and discovered Seen, Quik, Blade… and later Bando in Paris.

“Between 1986 and 1997, I kept a black book. It was an A4-sized book with a hard cover in which I made sketches and pasted photos of my own grati work. Particularly in the early years, I had the book with me wherever I went. The black book allowed me to show other writers what I’d done. Not everything made it into the book, only the work I was proud of. Gradually, the function of the book changed from portfolio to personal logbook. The black book stayed at home more and more often and I began pasting all kinds of stu in it. However, instead of using suitable glues to paste the photos and sketches, I used poor quality glue such as rubber cement, blue 3M photo mount and adhesive tape. My first book, a Daler, had paper of reasonable quality. When this was full in 1992 I bought another sketchbook. The paper of this one was of very poor quality and yellowed very quickly. Gradually the books began to fall apart. With this publication I intend to give my black books a longer life. For that reason, I have not made a selection of my work, but instead every page from both black books is photographed and accompanied by annotations in the back.”

The book is a luxury object with a thick leather cover and biographical notes where the artist traces the origins of his graffiti style as well as moments and cities which were critical to his formative years.

 


Conor Harrington: Watch Your Palace Fall

Published by Heni Publishing

conor-harrington-227x300Released by a british art publisher usually specialized in Francis Bacon or Gerhard Richter’s monographs and catalogues raisonnés, Watch Your Palace Fall is a well-deserved achievement for the London-based Irish street artist and painter, whose original graffiti practice evolved to street art and wall painting to a work more focused on studio paintings, influenced by the movement and gesture of graffiti, classical painting from the Siècle d’Or and modern english painting.

The monograph is organized between outdoor works and indoor pieces and is a comprehensive and high-quality book retracing Conor Harrington’s career to date, and is a good example of a successful trajectory from street art to contemporary art circles.

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Saeio 2009 – 2014

Published by Editions Peinture

saeio-2009-2014Earlier in the year, French independent publishing house Editions Peinture published the first monograph of the French post-graffiti artist Saeio.

Spanning 5 years of street works from the member of the Parisian PAL Crew, the books distinguishes itself by an elegant and sober layout (rightfully inspired by the seminal CAP Crew book of 2007), and the originality of the paintings. Saeio’s graffiti style and paintings are redefining the practice of wall painting, tagging, and the way public spaces are utilized.

Saeio is blurring the lines of graffiti, deconstructing patterns, and fostering a modern and innovative approach of the genre.

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Ericailcane 2000-2015: “Come Quando Fuori Non Piove”

Published by Z000 Press

ericailcane-2000-2015-come-quando-fuori-non-pioveEricailcane 2000-2015 is the first anthology of all the wall paintings by Ericailcane.

Ericailcane is an Italian street artist and painter versed in anthropomorphic, poetic and fairytale wall painting style. Often associated with Blu, Ericailcane brings a sense of wonderment to street painting and the book is an artistic tour de force that follows 15 years of activity with over 250 murals in more than 20 countries.

 

 

 

 



Jim Avignon: Here Comes the Bad News Finissage

Join us in the gallery on Sunday afternoon for the finissage of the exhibition “Here Comes the Bad News“.

Between 16:00 and 19:00, Jim Avignon will spin 7″ records, meet the audience, sign books and goodies (our new limited edition mugs!) and there will be a raffle of a painting!

 

Jim Avignon

Here Comes the Bad News Finissage

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

16:00 – 19:00