the death of graffiti .pdf - Popular Culture Association in the South The Death of Graffiti Postmodernism and the New York City Subway Author(s Claudia

the death of graffiti .pdf - Popular Culture Association in...

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Popular Culture Association in the South The Death of Graffiti: Postmodernism and the New York City Subway Author(s): Claudia Barnett Source: Studies in Popular Culture, Vol. 16, No. 2 (April 1994), pp. 25-38 Published by: Popular Culture Association in the South Stable URL: Accessed: 22-12-2016 21:09 UTC JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at Popular Culture Association in the South is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Studies in Popular Culture This content downloaded from 141.217.20.120 on Thu, 22 Dec 2016 21:09:19 UTC All use subject to
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Claudia Barnett The Death of Graffiti: Postmodernism and the New York City Subway New York City subway graffiti died in May of 1989, when the last graffiti-covered subway cars were retired, replaced by trains with paint proof surfaces. The battle against graffiti had been a long one, begun by Mayor John Lindsay and continued by Mayor Ed Koch. In recent years, it had run an annual tab of 52 million dollars ("Fade to Gray" 12); it had endangered the health of men who sprayed caustic solvents on the cars; and it had cost the lives of several graffiti writers who did not run fast enough from the police and their dogs. The death of graffiti, however, was not only literal, but metaphorical. While attacked by the police and the Transit Authority, graffiti was simultaneously suffocated by the more subtle means of the arts establishment—those critics and galleries who brought graffiti indoors and framed it. Graffiti—that anarchic, powerful, and threatening form of expression—was not to be tolerated by the postmodern world, not until it could be tamed. To the mayors and other city officials, graffiti was a problem of "defacement," as Lindsay explained in 1974: "People would come into new cars and suddenly they'd see them all marked up, covered inside out, and it depressed people terribly ... The graffiti was profoundly depressing— it truly hurt people's moods" (qtd. in Mailer 150). Lindsay, however, did not speak for all the people; some were elated by the graffiti. Pop artist Claes Oldenburg, articulating the other side of the argument, once remarked, 'You're standing there in the station, everything is gray and gloomy and all of a sudden one of those graffiti trains slides in and brightens the place like a big bouquet from Latin America" (qtd. in Mailer 149). By 1982, Oldenburg's view had become dominant in the gallery world, where graffiti was being "cultivated" at a brisk pace and fetching high prices. Graffiti writers became celebrities; they became wealthy and This content downloaded from 141.217.20.120 on Thu, 22 Dec 2016 21:09:19 UTC All use subject to
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