Who actually started street art as it is thought of today is a subject hotly debated by artists, arts professionals, enthusiasts, academics, and critics, with some going as far as declaring 35,000 year old Indonesian cave paintings the first - although there weren’t exactly “streets” yet. There were roads and graffiti in ancient Rome, and political slogans and images appeared on the streets of Europe at least as early as the nascent twentieth century.
The proliferation of non advertising, non political works on paper (street art posters), illicitly pasted on exterior walls along roads and avenues throughout the world began with the “art militia” avant in New York City in 1980. And thus street art (as differentiated from textual graffiti or sanctioned murals) was born, as cited in the Wikipedia entry below. Around the same time Haring started doing his chalk drawings in the subways, and Hambleton began his famed Shadowman series. avant also displayed their works in night-clubs, galleries, museums, and just about anyplace available until disbanding in 1984. Their efforts then, and the attention they received, contributed immeasurably to the formation and popularity of street art now. Today there remain two of the original members alive and actively creating and exhibiting art: David Fried, and the founder of the movement, Christopher Hart Chambers. Both have since flourished in their independent careers with dozens of solo exhibitions internationally. This exhibition, the first avant exhibition in over 35 years will feature an installation of brand new, one-off (unique) avant posters, historic documentation of the entire group’s seminal efforts in the form of limited edition prints, and select recent works.
AVANT, also known as AVANT street art guerrilla collective, was the artist group active in New York City from 1980 to 1984. By 1984 AVANT had produced thousands of acrylic on paper paintings and plastered them on walls, doors, bus-stops and galleries citywide. Principal artists were Christopher Hart Chambers, David Fried, and Marc Thorne.
AVANT was a group of five young New York artists working collectively who wheat pasted handmade original poster sized works of non-calligraphic art in the streets of NYC. While the members of Avant assert that they began in the winter of 1980, the earliest available press documentation of their street art or art exhibitions is found in the New York Native from June 1982, wherein a later article published in the Villager places their origins at January 1981. By 1984 avant had produced thousands of acrylic on paper paintings and plastered them on walls, doors, bus-stops, galleries and museums citywide, concentrated mostly in lower Manhattan. As a group, they were capable of producing hundreds of individual paintings per week, and deployed them in the streets on a regular basis. They also mounted three-dimensional artworks to street sign poles and commandeered bus stop advertising light boxes, replacing the contents with their own original works of art, then re-locking the cabinets. Over 40 exhibitions of AVANT's work were held in New York galleries and nightclubs between 1981 and 1984. Over a typical artist- gallery financial dispute, they actually managed to commandeer a gallery in Soho to open the 1982 September sea- son with a self curated exhibition. Another fresh concept was to start an exhibition in the street that would continue into a gallery. They called this the “Drive-In Show,” which started with a dozen numbered oversized paintings pasted high up on a parking lot wall in SoHo, and continued up the block in Gabrielle Bryers Gallery starting with painting number 13. photo - SOHO, NYC - 1983
17 Frost Gallery was co-founded by Javier Hernadez-Miyares and Steven Pacia in 2006 and has been exhibiting con- temporary and historic street artists since then. This exhibition is curated by Jason Mamarella.
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