Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a contributing editor of City Journal.
Anyone who glorifies graffiti needs to answer one question: If your home were tagged during the night without your consent, would you welcome the new addition to your décor or would you immediately call a painter, if not the police?
No institution that has celebrated graffiti in recent years — like the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles or the Museum of the City of New York — would allow its own premises to be defaced for even one minute. Graffiti is something that one celebrates, if one is juvenile enough to do so, when it shows up on someone else’s property but never on one’s own.
The question “When does graffiti become art?” is meaningless. Graffiti is always vandalism. By definition it is committed without permission on another person's property, in an adolescent display of entitlement. Whether particular viewers find any given piece of graffiti artistically compelling is irrelevant. Graffiti’s most salient characteristic is that it is a crime.
John Lindsay, the progressive New York politician who served as mayor from 1966 to 1973, declared war on graffiti in 1972. He understood that graffiti signaled that informal social controls and law enforcement had broken down in New York’s public spaces, making them vulnerable to even greater levels of disorder and law-breaking. A 2008 study from the Netherlands has shown that physical disorder and vandalism have a contagious effect, confirming the "broken windows theory."
There is nothing “progressive” about allowing public amenities to be defaced by graffiti; anyone who can avoid a graffiti-bombed park or commercial thoroughfare will do so, since tagging shows that an area is dominated by vandals who may be involved in other crimes as well.
New York’s conquest of subway graffiti in the late 1980s was the first sign in decades that the city was still governable; that triumph over lawlessness paved the way for the urban renaissance that followed.
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Topics: Law, art
Graffiti: Art or Vandalism Essay
1911 WordsFeb 26th, 20138 Pages
Graffiti: Art or Vandalism?
Graffiti has been around for more than half a decade and practiced worldwide. However there is debate between whether it is a form of art or vandalism. Graffiti artists’ debate that many do not understand the reason most graffiti artist take the risk of incarceration, fines, injuries, and in some cases death to paint a wall. A graffiti artist can have the simple desire to become recognized, or to create a piece that speaks to their audience as a form of self expression. Because graffiti is associated with gangs and acts of destruction to some many cannot see the history and importance graffiti can have on a worldwide scale. Due to the fact that graffiti is usually produced illegally, meaning it is…show more content…
Today there are world known graffiti artists, Aryz, Kaws, and D Face are just a few. Any artist wants to be recognized and have their work appreciated. That is why public property is so appealing to the graffiti artist. A train car moving throughout the city with your mural on it will be seen by hundreds, even if its up for a small period of time. Most graffiti artists take time to create a piece. It takes a lot of planning and effort to make a great piece of art. Graffiti artists are all about techniques, you need to be able to show you are an expert in your medium. It’s also important for a graffiti artist to find an imaginative spot for a mural, so it’s obvious that it’s hard work. To make graffiti a piece of art it must have purpose and inflict emotion on its audience, which is why the forcefulness of the urban environment is as much as part of the artwork as the graffiti itself. Taggers have no real reason to create graffiti. Nor is what they do visually pleasing.
Many citizens and government officials believe that those with disregard for the law and private property strictly do graffiti. In a New York Times article published in 2006 a senior police officer stated in an appearance to the committee of the metropolitan transportation authority on graffiti, stating that, “This is an underworld, a segment of society that doesn’t see this as a crime.” (P B5) Gang members write names