Not so street

Street Art at Tate Modern, installation view, © Tate Photography
As Banksy’s forays into the world of the white cube have shown, the meeting of grafitti art and the formal art establishment can be an uneasy one. This is reiterated in the current exhibition at Tate Modern, titled simply Street Art, which sees six international “urban” artists create artworks for the façade of the iconic building. The talent of the artists – who include Faile, JR, Nunca, Os Gemeos, Sixeart and the much-admired Blu – cannot be faulted but the method of display feels lazy, with all the works displayed on one side of the museum (to maximise the view when crossing over the Millennium Bridge presumably) where they compete with one another for attention.

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Street Art at Tate Modern, installation view, © Tate Photography

As Banksy’s forays into the world of the white cube have shown, the meeting of grafitti art and the formal art establishment can be an uneasy one. This is reiterated in the current exhibition at Tate Modern, titled simply Street Art, which sees six international “urban” artists create artworks for the façade of the iconic building. The talent of the artists – who include Faile, JR, Nunca, Os Gemeos, Sixeart and the much-admired Blu – cannot be faulted but the method of display feels lazy, with all the works displayed on one side of the museum (to maximise the view when crossing over the Millennium Bridge presumably) where they compete with one another for attention.

Surely a more interesting use of these talents might have been possible – a more subtle display method perhaps, so that the work would feel more of a discovery? Which is, after all, a significant element of the pleasure of this kind of work. To be fair, the Tate have attempted this, in their own way, with an additional walking tour of works by five Madrid-based street artists in the nearby streets, but the main artists have not been included in this. Or even allowing the artists the opportunity to use the inside of the Tate space? Unfortunately it all feels rather a wasted opportunity by Tate, even though the individual works themselves are impressive.

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Detail of Street Art installation at Tate Modern, © Tate Photography

Perhaps to prove the point, in addition to his work at Tate, JR has been busy wallpapering other parts of London, with more impressive results. Alongside another piece on the Truman Brewery, he has covered Partizan‘s offices on the corner of Lexington Street, as shown below.

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Photograph: Anthony Dickenson

His connection to the production company comes through his work with Al Siddons on a forthcoming breakdance documentary and his ongoing collaboration with Partizan directors LO-DEF, who have been filming his ongoing Women Are Heroes project. His DailyMotion page has footage of his Partizan portrait going up here.

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