The Joys of a Good Art Book

There’s nothing like the smell of new book and pretty pictures to get an art lover’s head spinning.

Feeling blue over the fact that I have YET to attend “Art in the Streets,” MOCA’S history-making, society-shaking street art exhibition curated by Jeffrey Deitch, I was more than happy to stumble upon a book called Art in the Streets. Basically the companion to the exhibition, the book contains articles from well-versed art figures and even includes interviews with artists themselves, like Lee Quinones and Fab 5 Freddy.

Not the book cover on my library copy, but one of the covers. Creative Commons.

The book steeps you in the innovative, wild origins of graffiti and street art and includes photos of gnarly works and the madmen and women that created them.

Carlo McCormick, curator and critic, makes a significant argument about street art and the way society views it:

“With a visual landscape so polluted by come-ons and coercions, we should stop asking ourselves why kids attack these spaces and instead wonder why we do not join them. This, then, is the nature of the writing on the wall today: It is  not only about what is written but also fundamentally about reading what is already there.”

Spot on.

Art in the Streets is another important installment in the history of an art form that is mostly ephemeral. The photos are plentiful, the writings are thoughtful and engaging and input from the artists just puts icing on the cake. There are other books out there on graffiti art (1984’s Subway Art was once a Bible to street artists), but this one manages to show graffiti and street art over a period of decades and spanning many locations. It even includes a chronology section. It is this attention to the history of art, as is evident in the exhibit as well, that is putting graffiti and street art under more attention and giving it more and more credit.

This is a paperback/hardcover you won’t want to miss out on.

“Art in the Streets” runs until August 8 at the MOCA Geffen Contemporary museum.

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