Graffiti as an art form at Berlin’s Museum for Urban Contemporary Art

19th September 2017

While many cities and institutions across the globe consider street art and graffiti to be one of the less talented forms of art and even a type of vandalism, there are many art enthusiasts that hail urban street art, regarding it as a modern artform. 

Berlin - a city well known for its thriving art scene and modern vibe - is embracing street art for all it’s worth, as its new Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art opens its doors to visitors from around the world. 

The gallery will play host to an exciting exhibition that will showcase the works of 150 international and local artists and has been described by the BBC as the first of its kind in the world. 

Instead of seeing graffiti as a form of pollution that must be removed from the streets, many of the works of art that will be featured in the museum are being paraded on the streets of Berlin, ahead of the formal launch of the inaugural display. 

Located on a street that is already home to a giant art gallery, the museum’s exhibition will last for around nine months and aims to introduce visitors to the culture of urban art. 

According to the Hindustan Times, the museum’s creative director, Yasha Young, worked with eight curators from a selection of countries to produce a show that explores strands including portraits, pop art and activism. 

"Urban contemporary art is the logical next step to follow what is happening on the street," said Ms Young. "This house can be an archive that tells the story [of street art] for the first time, from the beginning until now." 

Currently, it is illegal to graffiti any building in Berlin without the permission of the owner. To avoid any illegal street art, the city has introduced measures to help street artists carry out their art legally. 

British artist Louis Masai, whose work is exhibited in the new museum, said: "It means that the artists who have been a part of this scene and movement for a long time are now getting the respect that they deserve." 

Ms Young has said that so far the street art scene in Berlin has lacked an “informative hub” and that part of the idea is to “teach people a new language, which is the language of street art, graffiti and urban contemporary art.”

Featured in the museum is British artist Ben Eine’s coloured lettering that inks the two floors  together. 

There is also art work from Portuguese artist Vhils, works by New York-based Iranian duo Icy and Sot, Sao Paulo-based Marina Zumi and France’s Mademoiselle Maurice. In addition to this is the king of street art Banksy’s Gangsta Rat work of art, which is expected to be of interest to many art visitors.

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