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W​all Writers: Graffiti in its Innocence

  • MCA Denver 1485 Delgany Street Denver, CO, 80202 United States (map)

Opening celebration on February 10, 6PM-MIDNIGHT.

Modern graffiti as we know it began in New York City and Philadelphia in 1967, but it can now be found in far reaching corners of the globe. Today, graffiti and street art deeply inform and reflect different aspects of popular culture from music to advertising to film. Wall Writers presents the far-ranging origins from which this popular art form was born.

The exhibition includes an impressive array of materials and documentation that celebrate the early roots of pioneering street artists. High school notebooks of the artists, the first canvases painted, spray paint advertisements, commercial greeting cards, as well as richly documented images of buildings completely covered in spray-painted monikers reveal the context of this early movement. Tracing the origins of graffiti, the exhibition also presents the slow transition from art of the street to fine art, including some examples by established artists such as Gordon Matta-Clark and the photographer Jon Naar. Wall Writers also highlights some of the most prolific writers of the time, including TAKI 183 (who wrote in New York City) and Cornbread (who was in Philadelphia). The exhibition as a whole stands as an important historical narrative about the origins of one of the most prolific art movements of the twentieth century.

This comprehensively researched exhibition developed out of the 2016 documentary film and companion book of the same name, produced and directed by Roger Gastman. Wall Writers retraces the steps of teenagers over forty years ago and delves into this history using first-person accounts, historical records, and old photographs, among other material.

Approaching the fiftieth anniversary of graffiti as we know it, Wall Writers’ deep insight into the culture’s beginnings directly connects with the progression of creativity in contemporary art and its lasting impression. The goal is to inform, excite and educate while simultaneously celebrating this significant contribution to the history of modern art and culture.