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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

 



La Vallée/BAF at Urban Spree

Urban Spree invites our Brussels-based friends from LaVallée and Brussels Art Factory for a week-end long mini festival in Berlin focused around arts, music, workshops, and performances!

Opening on Friday 01.06, we start the evening with the Opening of “Balance”, a solo presentation of new works by the famed belgian duo Hell’o in our main galerie space. Running in parallel with their retrospective museum solo show at the BAM in Mons (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Mons, Belgium), “Balance” brings a new series of paintings on canvas and drawings on paper to the Berlin audience. Hell’o will also sign their new monograph “Untitled Oddyssey”, published early May by Maison CFC – éditions & librairie. Urban Spree Prints will also release 2 screenprints specially made by the duo for the occasion.

The Brussels-based collectives Farm Prod and Ice Screen will display recent original works and prints in our Galerie “Ecke” and run various screen printing workshops during the weekend.

Fred Penelle & Yannick Jacquet from the collective Antivj will present “Mécaniques discursives”, an immersive installation mixing etchings, prints and video projections.

On Saturday evening, the visual and street artist Vincent Glowinski a.k.a. BONOM and the drummer Teun Verbruggen will present their performance “Duo à l’encre” in our garden. Bonom will sign his 2 published monographs on Saturday in our bookshop.



Urban Spree at UAF Paris 2018

Urban Spree returns for the third consecutive year to the Paris Urban Art Fair from 12th to 15th of April 2018.

 

We will be presenting a duo show with two Berlin-based artists represented by the gallery, Hendrik Czakainski (GER) and Tavar Zawacki (USA). Both artists will be present during the Fair.

 

One of the highlights of the Urban Spree booth will be the presentation of a triptych by Hendrik Czakainski (see below). This artwork in 3 framed panels has a size of 288 cm long by 160 cm high. The german artist is known for his 3D surreal visions of urban and industrial settlements, prone to chaos, uncertainty and destruction, however reaching a formal and hypnotic abstracted beauty.

 

Urban Spree Prints will also release a limited edition 15-colour screen print set of the triptych work, masterly crafted at the Urban Spree Studios by Dolly Demoratti. This release is exclusive to the fair and will be launched at the Opening.

Urban Spree will also be presenting 6 new medium-sized works on canvas (120 x 90 cm) by Tavar Zawacki aka ABOVE. A further step away from his iconic “arrow” motive towards geometric abstraction and hard-edged painting, Tavar’s new works are subtle trompe l’oeil and variations perfectly executed in a muted color range. We will also introduce a new series of resin cut-out works from the Californian artist.


 

Tavar will sign copies of his book Metamorphosis – published by Urban Spree Books in September 2017 – on Saturday 14.04 at 16:00 on the Urban Spree booth.

 

We will also show some calligraphic works on paper by Bisco Smith and Jonas “Sun7” Bournat.

 

 

URBAN ART FAIR | PARIS 2018 LE CARREAU DU TEMPLE
4, Rue Eugene Spuller
75003 Paris, France

12 >15 avril 2018



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