By commissioning works from the foremost graffiti artists, Alain-Dominique Gallizia has compiled - and continues to compile the most important painted record of what was, until now, an ephemeral art. Now 300 works have been brought together for an unprecedented project in the history of Art, shown in a world-first exhibition at the Grand Palais
From the street to the Grand Palais. For the first time ever, this art sauvage is being shown at a Paris cultural institution, in the south-west gallery, undergoing restoration, on the first floor overlooking the nave. This new gallery provides an exceptional 700 square metres of space under the glass-panelled roof of the Grand Palais.
Tags, in which the artist signs their nickname or street name adjoined to their house number (Stayhigh 149, Tracy 168 and many more), first appeared in the 1960s in the US, and were brought to wider public attention on July 21, 1971 when The New York Times ran a seminal story on the tag artist Taki 183.
After the simply-drawn letters of tags came graffiti. This aerosol art sparked a new style of calligraphy, a worldwide cultural challenge, and heated competition between graffiti artists. This new art form was brought to France from New York in 1983 by Bando, who wrote his name on walls around rue du Bac, the birthplace of Parisian graffiti art. From the Stalingrad Métro station to the Louvre, walls old and new around the city were soon covered in art by Skki, Jayone, Spirit, Psyckoze and others.
Each of the 300 works in this exhibition comes from an encounter between the leading T.A.G. (Tag And Graff) artists and Alain-Dominique Gallizia, who has spent the past three years in a constant quest for the last art form of the 20th century. They show how the artists, who were all actively involved in shaping this project, intend leaving an indelible trace of their talent.
All the works follow a unifying and threefold principle: the same format (a horizontal canvas in two parts measuring 60x180cm), the same theme (on the left the artist's signature, and on the right an open interpretation of the theme "Love") and if possible produced in Alain-Dominique Gallizia's studio in Boulogne-Billancourt, which he opened to the artists. The (some would say crazy) objective is to create a comparative record, both artistic and historical, instantaneous and eternal, of this movement.
The Gallizia collection speaks volumes about the energy on the street, where every nationality can express itself from the American pioneers and European stars to the up-and-coming generations in Korea (Reach), Iran (Isba) and Brazil (Nunca). Bubble letters, cloud letters, block letters, chromed signatures, restyled and freestyle cartoon characters
the works at the Grand Palais form a unique and multiple panorama of styles and colours.
Alain-Dominique Gallizia is an architect with a passion for graffiti who grew up between Paris and Provence. He opened his agency in 1984 in Boulogne, specialising in homes for clients who are in many cases also collectors. A chance encounter with a graffiti artist spraying a fence around the site he was working on inspired him to gather traces of this ephemeral street art by inviting artists to leave their mark on history on a two-sided canvas that will never be erased.