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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

 



TESS PARKS (A Records)

A native of Toronto, Tess Parks moved to London, England at the age of seventeen where she briefly studied photography before dropping out and deciding to focus on music. Tess managed to make an impression on industry legend Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records, albeit the timing of their meeting could hardly have been less ideal; McGee was no longer involved in music and Tess was due to move back to Toronto.

After moving back to her hometown in 2012, Tess formed a band on the advice of Alan McGee and less than a year after their meeting, he returned to music with his new label, ‘359 Music’. Tess became one of his first six signings and released her debut record Blood Hot in November 2013 to excellent reviews.
In February 2014, she began recording with Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe in Berlin and they completed their debut record ‘I Declare Nothing’ in autumn 2014. The record was released on ‘a Recordings’ in June 2015 to stunning reviews and a series of sold out UK and European tours. Tess continues to collaborate with Anton on Brian Jonestown Massacre records, co-writing the title track on their November 2015 EP ‘Pish’, the title track ‘Third World Pyramid’ released in October of 2016, and several songs on ‘Don’t Get Lost’.
The next Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe record is due out in October 2018, following an EP entitled ‘Right On’ due out in the spring.

http://tessparks.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/tessparksmusic/

+ Support: TBA

7PM doors open
8PM support TBA
9PM Tess Parks

 

+++++

Facebook Event



Beyond the Streets L.A.

Beyond the Streets is Roger Gastman’s follow-up show to Art in the Streets, the graffiti and street art retrospective that broke MoCA Los Angeles’ attendance record with 220,000 visitors.

7 years since the MOCA’s groundbreaking exhibition, Roger Gastman invites 100+ artists to showcase their art and create immersive installations over 4000 sqm of industrial indoor and outdoor space in Los Angeles for what will surely become 2018’s most ambitious show: Beyond the Streets.

Beyond the Streets will be opening in Los Angeles on May 6, 2018. Gastman will not only be looking into the roots and historical figures of Graffiti and Street Art, but also take an in-depth look at just how expansive street culture has become in the worlds of contemporary art, photography and other mainstream pop and art movements.

Beyond the Streets will focus on artists with a documented history of mark making and rule breaking as well as a current, robust studio practice primarily derived from the graffiti and street art movements.

Beyond the Streets is not intended to be an historical retrospective but rather an examination of cultural outlaws who embody the spirit of the graffiti and street art culture. The exhibition includes well known artists whose work is influenced or inspired by these risk takers and whose efforts have elevated the movement to new heights.

Among the installations, we can mention a handball court complete with site-specific artwork by famed NYC artist Lee Quiñones drawing inspiration from his lion mural in 1982, FAILE’s Temple, is a highly interactive, life size construction of ceramic, steel, mosaics and prayer wheels that re-conceives historical references from sacred structures that invite play and contemplation from the audience, as well as a historical recreation of the Venice Pavilion, the legendary graffiti and skate destination in Venice Beach, in partnership with adidas Skateboarding.

Roger Gastman is a curator, graffiti historian, urban anthropologist and collector. Gastman founded and co-published Swindle magazine with Shepard Fairey, co-authored The History of American Graffiti and co-produced the Oscar-nominated Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop.

 



Michael Schmidt’s “Waffenruhe” reprinted

30 years after its original and only release in 1987, Michael Schmidt’s legendary and long out-of-print photobook “Waffenruhe (“Ceasefire“) – considered as the best photobook about Berlin at the time of the Wall – is now being republished by Walther Koenig and Stiftung für Fotografie und Medienkunst.

The photographic series was originally exhibited in Berlin in 1987 at the Berlinische Galerie in GropiusBau. In Waffenruhe, Schmidt shows West Berlin shortly before the fall of the Wall by combining portraits of youths with images of anonymous sites bordering the Wall and the Wall itself. As is characteristic of his work, it is the arrangement of the individual photographs and the use of high contrasts — the interplay and dialogue between the multi-layered images — that gives the images their distinct meaning, revealing the correlation between historical events and individual biographies.

Schmidt evokes a world of ruptures and absences that eschews a confident, comprehensive point of view. The images work with Schleef’s text to create a brusque, entirely individual perspective on the fragility of human existence.

This artist’s book – often included on lists of the most influential photographic books of all time – is once again being made available. Two versions are available, german or english.

In addition to the book release, the Volksbühne theater in Berlin is projecting Waffenruhe’s photographs and text on its façade. Curated by Thomas Weski, the projection will be on display every night (from darkness to midnight) until 13.03.2008.

About the Photographer: 

Michael Schmidt was born in 1945 in Berlin, where he died in 2014. His works can be found in national and international collections and have been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions.

In 1976, Michael Schmidt founded the Werkstatt für Fotografie at VHS Berlin-Kreuzberg, which became a major forum for international discussions on photography in (West) Berlin. In 1987 he exhibited Waffenruhe at Berlinische Galerie. In 1988 the Museum of Modern Art, New York presented the work in the exhibition „New Photography 4″. In 1996 Ein-heit was shown for the first time at MoMA, New York under its English title U-ni-ty. This was the first solo-exhibition of a German photographer at MoMA since decades. In the same year, Ein-heit was presented for the first time in Germany at Sprengel Museum Hanover. In 1995, a first survey exhibition of his work was on view at Museum Folkwang Essen. In 2010 Michael Schmidt presented his comprehensive survey exhibition “Grey as Colour. Photographs since 2009” at Haus der Kunst, Munich. Lebensmittel (Food) was presented in solo exhibitions at Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen (2012), Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck (2013) and at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2013).

Michael Schmidt participated in the 55th Venice Biennial in 2013, and the Berlin Biennial in 2006 and 2010. In 2014 the artist was awarded with the Prix Pictet for his series “Lebensmittel”.

The Foundation for Photography and Media Art with the Michael Schmidt Archive was founded in 1999, and since the artist’s death is organising and preserving the artist’s archive (www.archivmichaelschmidt.de). Thomas Weski, curator of the Michael Schmidt Foundation, is currently working on a retrospective of the artist’s work at Nationalgalerie Berlin in 2020.

 



Opening of Toums’ solo show “Primitive Acids”

Urban Spree Galerie presents « Primitive Acids » a photographic exhibition by Toums from 20.10 to 12.11.2017. The Opening Reception will be held on Friday, October 20th from 19:00 to 22:00.

« Primitive Acids » is the first German solo show of the French experimental analog photographer Thomas Gosset a.k.a. Toums.

Wandering between his native Bordeaux and Berlin, Toums redefines the medium of analog artistic photography by attacking his negatives with acids, ink, paint and other physical alterations and combining his skillsets with a dark contemporary mythology.

Working in darkroom and strictly excluding all forms of modern technique, his practice lurks in the footsteps of the late 19th century pioneers and early 20th century surrealist avant-gardes.

Portraits are his preferred genre. Toums destructures them until they achieve the transmutated vision that the artist has assigned to them. Like a deus ex machina, the photographer creates the portrait with his camera and subsequently creates the final image through his manipulations ex-post.

Utterly disrespectful of the medium, desacralizing it in order to provide a new meaning, Toums is a rare breed of an iconoclast photographer, with filiation looking towards Joel-Peter Witkin, Pierre Molinier, and Roger Ballen.

His direct and deadly intervention on the film, the materia prima of his work, procures a highly unstable result. Soon to be destroyed by acids, slowly corroding the matter, the films are revealed in the darkroom process and printed on silver gelatin. As the film returns to dust, the portraits become fugitives, trying to escape their own fate, living in a printed dimension and refusing mortality. It is no accident that most Toums compositions are building a new mythology with some elements borrowed from the Greek corpus of myths.

« I destroy my own films with the intention of entering in the very heart of the photosensitive material, which allows me to have a direct control over the frozen reality that I destructure at will. The goal being to understand this matter as painting with the intention of pushing back the normal process of photography to expand my own field of investigation and thus regain an imaginative and narrative freedom. For years I wanted to freeze absurd moments in reality. »

Urban Spree Galerie
Revaler Str. 99
10245 Berlin

20.10-12.11 2017

Tu-Sa : 12:00-18 :30

Galerie enquiries: pascal@urbanspree.com

Press enquiries: diana@urbanspree.com



Toums: Primitive Acids

Urban Spree Galerie presents « Primitive Acids » a photographic exhibition by Toums from 20.10 to 12.11.2017.

« Primitive Acids » is the first German solo show of the French experimental analog photographer Thomas Gosset a.k.a. Toums.

Wandering between his native Bordeaux and Berlin, Toums redefines the medium of analog artistic photography by attacking his negatives with acids, ink, paint and other physical alterations and combining his skillsets with a dark contemporary mythology.

Working in darkroom and strictly excluding all forms of modern technique, his practice lurks in the footsteps of the late 19th century pioneers and early 20th century surrealist avant-gardes.

Portraits are his preferred genre. Toums destructures them until they achieve the transmutated vision that the artist has assigned to them. Like a deus ex machina, the photographer creates the portrait with his camera and subsequently creates the final image through his manipulations ex-post.

Utterly disrespectful of the medium, desacralizing it in order to provide a new meaning, Toums is a rare breed of an iconoclast photographer, with filiation looking towards Joel-Peter Witkin, Pierre Molinier, and Roger Ballen.

His direct and deadly intervention on the film, the materia prima of his work, procures a highly unstable result. Soon to be destroyed by acids, slowly corroding the matter, the films are revealed in the darkroom process and printed on silver gelatin. As the film returns to dust, the portraits become fugitives, trying to escape their own fate, living in a printed dimension and refusing mortality. It is no accident that most Toums compositions are building a new mythology with some elements borrowed from the Greek corpus of myths.

« I destroy my own films with the intention of entering in the very heart of the photosensitive material, which allows me to have a direct control over the frozen reality that I destructure at will. The goal being to understand this matter as painting with the intention of pushing back the normal process of photography to expand my own field of investigation and thus regain an imaginative and narrative freedom. For years I wanted to freeze absurd moments in reality. »

Urban Spree Galerie
Revaler Str. 99
10245 Berlin

20.10-12.11 2017

Tu-Sa : 12:00-18 :30

Galerie enquiries: pascal@urbanspree.com

Press enquiries: diana@urbanspree.com