Essay by szsoomroCollege, UndergraduateA, May 2004

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Graffiti is used by gangs and is an art form. The reasons, including aesthetic criteria, as to why it is an art form far outweigh the criticism of illegality, incoherence, and nonstandard presentation. The objective of this paper is to distinguish between gang tags and graffiti-an art form.

Suppose that Leonardo, Monet, Picasso, or any of the renowned artists of Western European culture were alive in the present day. Then, suppose that one of these famous artists decided to paint a masterpiece on the side of your house or on your front door or on a wall in your neighborhood. Would Picasso or Monet's markings be graffiti or art or vandalism or graffiti art? The response may differ across people; their markings would meet the criteria as vandalism only if they appeared on private or public property without permission. The same answer holds for the present day, genre of graffiti known as graffiti art.


Graffiti art first appeared in the late 1960's, and it has been rising ever since. Nevertheless, it is not readily accepted as being art like those works that are found in a gallery or a museum. It is not firmly denied the standing of genuine art because of a lack of form or other base aesthetic essentials. Most of the opposition to graffiti art is due to its place and daring, unexpected, and alternative presentation, but its presentation and often-illegal location does not always bar it as art. The type of graffiti, which can be accepted as art, is called graffiti art, subway art, or spraycan art.

The arguments of vandalism and unconventional presentation as negating the ability of some graffiti to be art is taken over by an explanation of those properties apparent in some forms of graffiti that do qualify it, aesthetically, as...