April 24, 2009
At one of the most prestigious national institutions in Paris the post-graffiti collection of architect and lover of “l’art sauvage” Alain-Dominique Gallizia is on view in a newly restored hall. We visited TAG au Grand Palais to check it out.
150 international graffiti writers and artists are part of Gallizia’s collection, which he started in 2006. As an architect he realized that with graffiti, the architects were no longer the only “artistes de la rue.” He began to invite graffiti writers into his studio to paint canvases for him, as he felt the need to preserve the beauty of graffiti art from its ephemeral fate on the street. Friends with Henry Chalfant, he was introduced to all the greats, from graffiti’s early- and heydays to contemporary kings from the US to France to Brazil.
Chalfant wrote the introduction to the exhibition, calling it “a historical document of the cultural movement that has arisen out of graffiti” and a “panorama of this international art movement.” But what we really encounter in the exhibition is not so much an historical document but a who’s who of graff from the pioneers onward.
Gallizia commissioned the artists to paint for him, but had “chosen to provide a conceptual framework within which the works [were] to be created”, imposing a format within which the artists had to work. Each work is the same size, made of two panels, the left panel devoted to the “TAG”, and the right panel the artist’s interpretation of “LOVE”.
Far from being limiting, this narrow theme and restricted, uniform format ordered the exhibition and downplayed elements of graffiti such as its competitive aspects, its varying forms, its role in the urban environment—instead we were left with 150 intimate portraits of the artists themselves. The abstraction of LOVE brings about highly personal interpretations and it was truly fascinating to see how the artists reacted to it.
The exhibition is organized chronologically to appeal to our sense history and forbears in graffiti, starting with Cornbread on top—”I LOVE Philly” of course, and Taki 183 (who makes no distinction between the TAG and the LOVE panels..), StayHigh 149 and Coco 144:
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