Street art: an artistic message in the modern urban environment

Keywords: street art, graffiti, muralism, criteria for the evaluation of art, information content, meaningfulness


Throughout the existence of humankind, at different periods, relevant criteria have been formed for informative means and the subject matter of works of art. The twentieth century was characterised by a fundamental reinterpretation of the meaningfulness and information-bearing message of art, which had lost its dominance of basic informational values – conveying aesthetic ideals, education of society in the spirit of harmony and beauty, introducing moral qualities with the use of artistic means, ideological orientation, etc. In stark contrast to traditio­nal art and to centuries-old artistic means of delivering certain information was street art, and the root cause of its emergence were the social problems of the post-war period in poor New York neighbourhoods. Growing in the reality of unemployment, general depression and poverty, children invented new forms of entertainment using whatever they could find around. And then, some years later, these new forms instantly reached almost all the countries of the world – both poor and rich. Yes, those post-war years brought skateboards, rap, graffiti and street art in the forms in which we know them today. Gradually, the meaningfulness of street art greatly deepe­ned and expanded. In addition to self-expression and social protest, the list of topics also started to include an individual’s protest against total globalization. Political implications also appeared. For example, they are definitely characteristic for the graffiti and murals of the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine. In the process of its development, legal street art was separated from illegal, purely amateur, spontaneous street art and artists who started “commercial street art” appeared, even though it would be more correct to call it urban art or simply modern art, since it is no longer created in street conditions, but is rather increasingly becoming the prerogative of art galleries and private customers. The attitude of other artists who do not consider their work for commerce is often somewhat ambiguous, as they promote art outside politics and commerce, i.e. “art for art’s sake”. A similar phenomenon concerned street art which originated in parallel with it. However, it was also determined by the needs of the creative development of young artists without available financing, became an art cluster, or rather a creative cluster which emerged due to the availability of a significant number of unused industrial enterprises where empty rooms were rented by artists for a token fee.

The peculiarity of street art is its self-sufficiency, as its main narrative is intervention in urban space. In this case, the purpose of the narration of each artist is different: a particular message to leave a memory, a reaction to a political event, a form of protest, creative inspiration, etc. When street art evolves from spontaneous acts of art to an exhibit at a festival or gallery space, it can acquire a trans-media character, complemented by dances, performances or music.

Author Biographies

Mykola Dyomin, Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, Ukraine

Doctor of Science (Architecture) (1988), Professor (1990), Ho­nored Architect of Ukraine (1997), Corresponding Member of the National Ukrainian Academy of Arts (2001), Professor of the International Academy of Architecture (1992), full member, Vice-President of the Ukrainian Academy of Architecture. In 1975–1986 – Head of the Department of the General Plan of Kyiv; 1988–2002 – Director of the Research Institute of Theory and History of Architecture and Urban Planning.

From 1986 to the present, Head of the Department of Urban Construction of Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture.

Author of more than 60 significant architectural and urban projects, and more than 300 scientific articles. Scientific interests and fields of scientific activity: architecture, urban studies, art theory.

  1. Dyomin, M.M., Orlenko, M.I. (2017). The systematic approach to monuments and restoration activities. Urban planning and territorial planning: Scientific and techni- cal collection, Osietrin, M.M. (Ed.). Kyiv, KNUCA. Issue 65, pp. 21–32.
  2. Dyomin Mykola, Ivashko Oleksandr. The systematic approach to the revitalization of historical fortifications and industrial enterprises under art clusters, Chełm – Lviv, 2018. No. 10. pp. 30-33.
  3. Dyomin Mykola, Ivashko Yulia, Rezga Kouider, Mosques of Algeria: Architectural and Urban Aspects, Kyiv, 2019, p. 192.
  4. Dyomin Mykola, Ivashko Oleksandr, Street Art as a new Phenomenon of Art – a Means of Centrification of the Urban Environment, “Art Inquiry. References sur les arts”, volu- me XXI (XXX), pp. 129-148.
Oleksandr Ivashko, Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, Ukraine

Master of Science in Architecture, a post-graduate student. Scientific interests and fields of scientific activity: street art, contemporary art, art clusters.

  1. Ivashko, O.D., Orlenko M.I. Art-Clusters as a New Type of Buildings: the Specificity of the Spatial Solution and the Features of Restoration during the Redevelopment Process (The Experience of Poland). / Środowisko Mieszkaniowe (Housing environ- ment), Kraków, 2017. No. 21. pp. 109-115.
  2. Iwaszko O. Społeczna Przyroda Nowych Artystycznych Kierunków w Miejskim Środo- wisku, “Przestrzeń/Urbanistyka/Architektura” 2/2018, pp. 167–176.
  3. Ivashko, O., Perehuda, Ye. Street art as a factor of cultural development and an element of symbolic politics in post-revolutionary Ukraine. Stosunki międzykulturowe. Tom 1. Strategie bezpieczeństwa i komunikacji we współczesnym świecie, Zielona Góra, 2016, pp. 155-174.
  4. Ivashko O. Możliwości użycia sztuki ulicznej we współczesnym dostosowaniu zamków i twierdz. Current issues in research, conservation and restoration of historic fortifica- tions, Chełm-Lviv, 2016, pp. 86-90.
  5. Dyomin Mykola, Ivashko Oleksandr. Street Art as a new Phenomenon of Art – a Means of Centrification of the Urban Environment, “Art Inquiry. References sur les arts”, volume XXI (XXX), pp. 129-148.


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