Guerilla art is the
surreptitious, and often sudden, creation or installation
of unauthorized public art, often with the purpose of
making an overt political statement. The term is often
used interchangably with "street art."
Guerilla art consists of reclaiming space and changing
its dynamics with images or counter images, art that
has been created anonymously and left on walls or in
places such as public squares. Guerrilla art is not
only spray paint and text and images. It can also encompass
theater and film projections projected on walls of buildings.
Guerilla art has arisen as a small underground movement
starting in the 1980s, partially as a response to the
perceived takeover of public space by commercial interests,
the perceived banality of many authorized public art
pieces, and the frequent lack of authorized exhibition
opportunities for artists.
One of the most popular forms of guerilla art is the
alteration of billboards, often with the intent of creating
an absurd or ironic message from the original advertising
content. Such installations are often meant to be somewhat
A school of thought exists that much artistically-intended
graffiti can be considered as guerilla art as well.
Stickers, stencils and poster art are increasingly
influential—Robbie Conal regularly uses Los Angeles
as his personal gallery space. Shepard Fairey's Obey
Giant stickers can now be seen in cities across the
United States. Other prominent members of the movement
include the billboard liberation front, Adbusters, Bansky
and the Guerilla Girls.
Although guerilla art is sometimes equated with the
use of disposable media, one of the most famous pieces
of guerilla art was the installation of the bronze sculpture
Charging Bull by Arturo Di Modica in front of the New
York Stock Exchange in December 1989. Although unauthorized,
the sculpture became an immediate hit with many New
Yorkers, leading to its permanent installation a few
blocks away in Bowling Green plaza.Jason Sprinkle, part
of Fabricators of the Attachment (FA), tied a chain
to the hammering man in Seattle, WA. Another guerrilla
art group, the Provos, during the 60s in Amsterdam acted
out happenings where the Provos would give out thousands
of white bikes. In another "performance,"
the Provos dressed up as Santa Claus and handing out
presents that did not belong to them to children in
the department store, causing the police to respond
and publicy arrest a handful of Santas in front of the
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