As I float my way through the vast ocean of art being made in this contemporary landscape, I am often thinking ahead. Not to what work will be created, but rather how this period in time will be remembered. There is no escaping the fact that art is all about looking backwards, to what has been created before. So what will this time, my time, be remembered for?
Some seem to think that the highest grossing artists will be the ones that are remember. The Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons connections as it were. I however subscribe to a different school of thought. One that has so much more public power than the genres of these high-paid artists. Street art.
To some, this is going to seem obvious. Street art is the avenue of many young artists these days and it seems to get more press attention than any other forms of art. But crucially, street art actually accomplishes something. It breaks the law, changes view points and propagates itself on a global scale. It refuses the institutions that rejected it for so long and instead focuses on the energies of a generation. Not money.
With any iconic new genre, the galleries and museums begin to pay attention. Much like the abstract expressionist movement and the pop movement to follow, the art world will eventually catch up. Now, street art exhibitions draw larger crowds than seemingly well established artists. Why?
Street art is mysterious and powerful. It conjures up the anti-establishment and gets us thinking outside of our highly civil and controlled universe. With the over-saturation of public imagery, it was only natural for street art to come along and react to it. Thus, the post-cursor to pop-art was not minimalism, but street art. Pop-arts embrace of all things popular culture is exactly what street art pushes away from.
So when we look at an art history book in the year 2200, long after we’re all dead, we will look back to the street art movement. A movement that inspired a generation of artists and changed our perception of what art can be and what it can mean. Luckily, Hirst and Koons will only be footnotes in a meaningful interpretation of the early 21st century.