Arts and Entertainment

Visual Arts

When did black art move to the streets of the ghetto?

Black art literally took to the streets of the ghetto in the 1960s and did so to meet with, appeal to, and celebrate the people, as was richly illustrated in Chicago and Detroit murals. In 1972 African-American and Hispanic teenagers in New York City created a colorful art form, “wall graffiti,” to express their racial loyalty and pride. The content of wall graffiti is often merely the name of a street gang, the nickname of the painter, or the name of the street where the painter lives. Some of the paintings, however, depict extravagant scenes with cartoon characters and flamboyant lettering. Toward the end of the 1970s and well into the 1980s, this graffiti style became very popular and acquired value in the art market. Several of the young street artists, particularly Jean-Michel Basquiat, were welcomed into the mainstream art world and made into superstars.


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