100 European Graffiti Artists Book Review – Vivid, Pop Art Meets New Wave Surrealism

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100 European Graffiti Artists, from author Frank "Steam 156" Malt and Schiffer Publishing, takes the reader on an imaginative journey through the many countries across Europe where Graffiti, once thought of as street art, is now celebrated.

A compilation of 224 pages, celebrating the art and styles of European street artists, captured by Steam as he travels across the continent in search of the next street design, whether it is Croatia, Spain, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, or Paris, London, Amsterdam, Rome, and Barcelona. If there are whispers of something or someone new, this graffiti documentarian made his way to photograph the work.

Explaining Paris, London and Amsterdam were the first three cities to embrace this punk style of art, which began with the bloated tag lettering that the world by now recognizes, and like any import worked to add a stylistic touch which evolved into the lightening style lettering which is prominent now across the continent.


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The author, Frank Malt, chose the moniker Steam 156 and as he presents in the foreword the journey of European Graffiti which he credits as the "New York City" style, and the similarities are clear, and arrived by way of the 1980s Punk Scene.

Granted many of the photos are of the razor-sharp, severe, and pointy "tags" which are prominent throughout the European countries. Styles, which clearly define the differences between street art in Asian and South America and even in America, sharper edges more explosive tag styling, as opposed to the bloated large lettering many recognize and frown upon.

100 European Graffiti Artists is just that, a collection of photographs taken by Malt/Steam 156 and complied into this specialty book. Museum ready wall murals, large scale installation pieces, open the book created by a crew known as Three Steps. A blurb introduces the style of art, interpretative influence, representations of well-known and documented places, surroundings, comic book characters and movies.


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The level of talent can be seen throughout the pages with vivid, graphic, and powerful exhibitions of both the craft and the art. A reemergence of Andy Warhol-esque Pop Art, and a wider acceptance of the unusual or modernized as animation style, dramatic, flamboyant colors, carry over from canvas to canvas, with a flow of continuity that does not stop at the canvass' edge.

The art migrated and evolved from back alleys, and highway underpasses, to mainstream and museums. Of course the work, while not considered mainstream by the traditional art world and many would pass off as luck, or garish destruction of the horizon, combined with a disdain for the un-accepting appraisal of the art critics that refuses to recognize talent can be nurtured on street canvasses, some rise to the top and even the staunchest critic would admit there are those who possess real talent.


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The artists, many of whom are inspired by fringe influences from London's Punk wave to contemporary HipHop, reflect the fusion of expression creating psychedelic, colored, incorporating Salvador Dali surrealist style, with the images melting into the next.

Malt also tells his story, a graffiti documentarian, he explains his early beginnings outside London and his move into a wonderland of street art that birth his career. Every movement of his life from the 1980 forward was focused on this passion.

Frank Malt, a.k.a. Steam 156, is known worldwide for his tireless documentation of graffiti. Born in the late 1960's in the South of England Steam 156's initial interest in graffiti started in 1984. Eventually connecting with other writers, Steam 156 soon began writing himself Never really one to paint elaborate pieces, he enjoyed the act of getting up. Soon his weekends were spent hungrily hunting for graffiti.

 

Out of this his photo collection grew, which led to connections with other writer, globally, mainly through the magazines IGT and HipHop Connection, to which Steam contributed. He formed lasting friendships with James Prigoff and Henry Chalfant both famous graffiti photographers. His work led to more press and TV coverage. He launched the magazine Graphhotism and has organized mainstream graffiti shows.


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100 European Graffiti Artists, a mix of pop art meets new wave surrealism, with vivid, Psychedelic Images. For the modern art collector and the street art enthusiasts. Available at fine books store everywhere and through Schiffer publishing.

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