New York City's Street Art Movement

the gritty streets and subway trains of NYC

In the late 1970’s a new graffiti art movement emerged in the most unlikely place – the gritty streets and subway trains of New York City’s most forsaken borough, the Bronx. The urban landscape was transformed into a free, always-open museum which grew up alongside subcultures such as street fashion and hip hop.


The first modern graffiti artists were mostly kids, ignored by the mainstream American culture, engaged in tagging walls, delivery trucks, storefronts and derelict buildings. Legendary artist Cope2 owes his contribution of over 35+ years to graffiti and street art culture, to his nights spent riding and painting the subway cars in the Southern Bronx in the late 1970s. Many of these early pioneers however - think Keith Harring, Jean Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf - also paved the way for the movements entrance into the art institution. 

Today, artists emerging from the NYC street scene in the 1990s and 2000s are fostering huge success in the art market. One of street art’s most prolific figures, KAWS, began his career “subvertising”;  parodying or spoofing advertisements, billboards, bus shelters and phone booths around New York City. He has since collaborated with musicians like Kanye and Pharrell, fashionlines such as Diorand Comme Des Garcons and every day apparel brands such as Nike and Uniqlo. His work is celebrated by big ticket sales at Auction Houses such as Sotheby’s, and exhibitions in major galleries and art museums.

April 29, 2022