Street Art & Architecture

Street art considers the aesthetics of the urban landscape. The modernist shunning of decoration in preference for raw unadorned planes has been rejected and decoration has been embraced again. The modernist architectural raw concrete planes have become surfaces to spray paint.

Melbourne artist Jay Walker’s  street inspired aerosol art was combined with gardening in Rick Eckersley’s gold medal Small Garden at the 2008 Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show. (Australian House & Garden, May, 2008) Jay Walker’s curvy abstract aerosol work in a restrained palette of browns is the backdrop for a small formal garden. Jay Walker specialize in creating pieces that fit into architecture, providing that street inspired wall for the stylish contemporary home. The use of street inspired aerosol art in architectural or garden design is a natural progression as street art is a response to urban architecture.

Street artists respond to the found architecture of the location, sometime with very creative results. This is, in contemporary art terms, ‘site specific art’, as opposed to art that can be moved from site to site. There are pieces that comment on their location, like the figure of Batman opposite Batman station, or images of trains beside a train line. There are pieces that respond to the architecture. Painted door flamesDoors, especially the roller-shutters used by shops for security, are an obvious location because doors frame a piece and, in the case of roller-shutters can be rolled away. This creates differences between the after-hours and opening hours look of many locations, like Centre Place in Melbourne’s CBD. Other architectural divisions in buildings are used to divide and frame different pieces of aerosol art.

CollingwoodStreet art forces the personal into the modern planned urban landscape that has no place for the individual human. The bodies that these spaces are created for are corporations and not humans. So some of the city looks like it was designed by daleks and cylons, alien constructions of steel, glass and concrete. Street art attempts to humanize this modern alien environment by appropriating it and decorating it.

Here are some more examples of street art responding to architecture around Melbourne.

Wave wall
Maxcat Brunswick



About Mark Holsworth

Writer and artist Mark Holsworth is the author of two books, The Picasso Ransom and Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

3 responses to “Street Art & Architecture

  • Jay Dee

    Great post and thanks for the link to Jay Walker! It is great to see a street artist being able to use their art in a way that might bring in some revenue too.

  • imagestoliveby

    Nice post – it’s interesting to think about how placing an artwork in a way that really interacts with or makes good use of the architecture around it can contribute to how we see the image…. Very much part of what is or isn’t good ‘placement’.

  • Graffiti & Architecture « Black Mark

    […] to art deco, a total style from graphics to fashion to architecture. When I first wrote about street art and architecture in 2009 there was very little to write about apart from bigger walls. Now there are whole […]

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