Modern graffiti is not subversive - it is a formulaic, bankrupt cliche
(Jonathan Jones in Guardian, Saturday August 7, 2004)
The French artist Jean Dubuffet gave the name "art brut", raw or wild art, to the untutored graphic productions of children, the insane and graffitists. A statement signed this week by Tony Blair deserves to be recognised as "criticism brut" - ignorant, clumsy, yet a stroke of raw genius. In apparent unawareness of 50 years of modern thinking, Blair and 121 MPs have signed a statement published by Keep Britain Tidy in response to its report that councils spend £27m a year erasing street daubs. Endorsing the hygienic organisation's call for zero tolerance of teenagers with spray cans, the MPs declare baldly that "graffiti is not art, it's crime".
The natural liberal response to this is to defend the richness and wildness of graffiti, the layers of rotting posters, scrawled secret language and spray-can calligraphy that makes dull walls speak hidden dreams in fat lurid lettering. But I don't feel like standing up for Banksy, Wanksy and whoever else is currently rated as a subversive street artist. Most of them are boring, talentless mediocrities who benefit from exhausted ideas that protect graffiti and exaggerate its aesthetic merits.
Peter Gorsen Graffiti und Art Brut