First published: Winter 1997/98
From its early beginnings in the late 1960s, the aerosol culture of New York City developed into one of the most vibrant and unprecedented art movements. Its young artists, all self-taught and predominantly from Hispanic and African-American backgrounds, have been involved in a genuinely revolutionary artistic development, whose followers have been consistently persecuted, harassed and ignored by social, political and cultural forces.
Originally stemming from stylised names drawn out on walls and subway trains, the culture of rebellion that went alongside it brought retribution from authority. Aerosol culture was born out of an era when many of its youth identified strongly with the protests of Vietnam, the suppression of those from the ghetto, the riots and burnings of rebellion. Human rights, racism, poverty, crime, drugs, all played their part. This feeling of being outside society, of art and revolution closely linked, is still a strong element.