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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

 



Jan Kaláb: “Point of Space” – Berlin Book Release & Signing

Urban Spree and Jan Kaláb invite you at Urban Spree Galerie next Saturday 24.11 at 18:00 for the Berlin release of the much-awaited first published monograph of the influential Czech post-graffiti artist.

Published in November 2018 by Prague-based Trafo Gallery on the occasion of the artist’s new solo exhibition in Prague (02.11-20.12-2018), the 320-page book – edited by the artist himself with the support of critic Petr Volf and designer Jan Novák – encompasses the many different aspects of Jan Kaláb’s artistic career, from the early graffiti bombings as CAKES and POINT to his versatile works in public & indoor spaces, murals, sculptures, and paintings.

Signed copies will be available in our Berlin shop and online after the event. Please make your order on our webstore now to reserve a signed copy. All orders placed before 25.11.2018 will receive a signed copy.

In addition to the book signing event, Urban Spree Prints and Jan Kaláb releaseShine Around Blue 1118“, a very limited silkscreen print on Saturday 24.11.2018 at 18:00.

Edited by Urban Spree Prints and printed by Dolly Demoratti (Mother Drucker/Urban Spree Studio), the print is a 6-colour, 70 cm x 70 cm hand-pulled screen print, with vibrant colors and a hologram glitter layer.

The print is edited in a very limited run of 18 prints. 9 prints are reserved for the Berlin event while the remaining 9 prints are available to the subscribers of the Urban Spree newsletter (you can join our newsletter by signing in on the bottom of this page and by clicking on any of the sub-categories).

 

 

 

Jan Kaláb: Point of Space

Book Release and Signing

Saturday 24.11.2018 from 18:00

Urban Spree Galerie
Revaler Str. 99
10245 Berlin



Urban Spree participates to Berlin’s first “Urban Art Week”

From 05 to 12 September 2018, Urban Spree will be part of the first URBAN ART WEEK, a new format for the Urban Art movement, which will be launched throughout Berlin. The Opening Night will happen at Urban Spree on the 05/09.

The Urban Art Week presents a comprehensive program and insights into the participating locations and projects under one roof. The format serves both to make Urban Art visible and to mediate, as well as to improve networking between local actors.

The URBAN ART WEEK provides insights into the locations and work of the participants, who present their own program for the URBAN ART WEEK. This gives visitors the opportunity to get to know Urban Art, Street art and Graffiti Writing within one week. The art program includes numerous exhibitions in galleries, project rooms, art spaces and institutions as well as performances, live painting and artistically designed walls.

A supporting program accompanies the URBAN ART WEEK: workshops by experts offer professional training and useful information for the daily work of artists and cultural workers. The two-day film program shows experimental films, portraits and documentaries about the French and German scene. Daily Street Art tours by local experts give visitors an insight into Urban Art in Berlin. Artists offer workshops for all ages to try out different techniques.

In Berlin, Urban Art has become an integral part of the cityscape, and large murals and surprising interventions in urban space can be found regularly. The city and its marketing is also adorned with the colourful paintings of its Urban Art artists, as is the local creative industry. But is there a dialogue between the scene and the city? Where is the line drawn between professional art and exploitation through increasingly fast-moving advertising purposes? Do we still have to ask the question whether Urban Art is art at all? The first URBAN ART WEEK pursues these thought-provoking impulses. In addition to discussions with representatives from city politics and local art institutions, the scene meets at workshops and symposia to discuss the concept of Urban Art and its own self- image. The week should leave something behind for the Berlin scene, it should convey a lasting value to the fast-moving Urban Art and create a basis for future communication.

Urban Art in Berlin has been around for decades and the media attention for it has increased. Berlin’s claim as an Urban Art Mecca is not only demonstrated by the last major exhibition projects with record attendance. The many small and independent art venues, project spaces and freelance artists who have been active in Berlin since the 1980s, have created the breeding ground for the subversive Berlin mix, that now makes the capital so attractive. URBAN ART WEEK is committed to their recognition and networking and ennobles the local scene with a gold medal – because Urban Art has actually earned this here for a long time. The program booklet with a city map, a website and a broad publicity campaign in German and English will accompany the week from 5 to 12 September 2018.

Further information under www.urbanartweek.de



1UP, Martha Cooper & Ninja K.: ONE WEEK WITH 1UP

One Week with 1UP” is an exceptional exhibition of photographs and artworks by Martha Cooper, 1UP Crew, and Ninja K. to coincide with the publication of the book “One Week With 1UP”.

The show is only the second exhibition ever made by the legendary Berlin-based vandal graffiti crew 1UP after their first show at Urban Spree in 2014 – “I Am 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…

One Week with 1UP” is a first-hand and behind-the-scenes account of the most important European crew of the 21st century.

 

Urban Spree Galerie presents: ONE WEEK WITH 1UP

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

Opening: May 9th, 2018, at 19:00 – open end

Exhibition: May 10th, 2018 – May 27th

Tuesday-Sunday / 12:00-19:00

Info: contact@urbanspree.com



SP38 in Arte Journal

Arte Journal has been filming a portrait of SP38 during his”Post-Vandal” Residency at Urban Spree. You can view the 2-minute portrait herebelow in German or in French here.

A selection of the original artworks produced by SP38 during his 2-week residency as a well as some of his well-known screen prints are on display in the “Ecke” of Urban Spree Galerie until 21.03.2018.

 



St. Patrick’s Festival Berlin 2018

Dear friends of St. Patrick’s Festival Berlin,

We are delighted to announce that SPFB is officially BACK WITH A BANG on Saturday, March 17th, 2018!!! #patisback

We have joined forces with Urban Spree in Friedrichshain to host our special day in March!

Urban Spree, the cultural icon on the old RAW Grounds beside Warschauer Str, is the perfect venue for our comeback special! We’ll have Irish streetfood vendors serving delicious Irish drinks and food, live music, Irish dancing, and so much more. Make sure you join our Facebook event to stay up to date with announcements!

Unfortunately we didn’t receive permission for the parade this year, but not to worry! We’ll open the gates at Urban Spree from 13:00 so rugby fans will be able to watch the first of 3 live games in the 6 Nations Championship. The highlight will be England vs Ireland (k.o. 15:45) shown on big screens.

We have invited Setanta Berlin GAA to build an indoor GAA section showcasing the very best of Gaelic football and hurling. We will have kids activities, such as Irish Storytelling, arts and crafts, face-painting and the very special opportunity to dance with our lovely Irish dancers.

We are also very pleased that members of Berlin-Ireland Pro Choice Solidarity will be joining us to raise awareness about the upcoming abortion referendum in Ireland and to promote the #hometovotecampaign.

We have a packed schedule of diverse, Berlin-based Irish musicians for the FREE concert in the garden. 4 Minute Mile are sure to set the tone early when they kick things off at 14:00. We will then have the opening ceremony at 15:00 featuring the incredible dancers from Irish Beats Dance Company Berlin. St. Patrick himself is also due to make an appearance 🙂

2-piece Irish folk group Slí na Sláinte will have a more calming influence on proceedings when they take to the stage at 16:00. After the Irish rugby match (17:30), headline act Joey Ryan and his band will take to the stage performing a mix of his own material as well as Irish rock classics. Kilkelly will then perform some folk and blues numbers before Seán Óg and David Flowerkraut treat us to some classic Irish ballads.

The Afterparty featuring a traditional Céilí Mór Irish dance followed by renowned Irish DJs follows on from the concert and will keep revellers moving until the wee hours 🙂

#patisback #afterparty

At a Glance

St.Patrick’s Festival Berlin is back and will be held on Saturday, March 17th, 2018
– The venue is Urban Spree, Revaler Strasse 99, 10245 Berlin
– Diverse mix of Berlin-based Irish musicians. Final line-up confirmed. Follow us here for more!
– Final day of NatWest 6 Nations Rugby Championship on the big screen. All 3 games LIVE (from 13:30)
– Tickets for the Afterparty are already on sale. Limited availability!

So sign up to our newsletter, follow us on social media and spread the word that #PATISBACK in 2018!

The SPFB Team