Amsterdam Street Art

While it is centuries ago, that the city of New York has been established as Fort Amsterdam by the Dutch colonizers (1625), strong culture links between two cities remained until today. When the graffiti art exploded in New York of the late 1960's, almost immediately the similar phenomena signaled itself in Amsterdam. Today, the Dutch capital is one of the most important graffiti scenes in the world. Graffiti art should be linked to a wider movement of the alternative youth culture which includes hip hop music, fashion, sport disciplines as skating, inline speed skating and BMX biking, a few selected video games. Together they all make up for a unique street art lifestyle, which influences behavior of almost all young people in the Netherlands.

The Dutch reject division into high and low culture, looking for values in both. Fighting with graffiti as a form of city pollution, the Municipality of Amsterdam introduced a general rule that the fine for being caught writing on the walls is not high, but you are expected to restore the wall to its previous state (or pay for the restoration). Large spaces of expression for the graffiti artists were created on fences of temporary building sites, easy to repaint doors, municipal electrical and water installations. The municipality went also into ordering some graffiti works and creating graffiti contests, trying to open art galleries and even museums for the graffiti artists.

Nevertheless, the monumental walls of Amsterdam are full of elaborated graffiti paintings (called pieces short form masterpieces), ornamental tags which are like elaborated signatures of graffiti artists, signs which are like logos of people and ideas and stencils which are repeated from one stencil. Additional to these painting techniques, there is also a scratchiti - damaging the windows of the public transport with a scratched sign or message. Graffiti artists call themselves bombers or writers, their groups are called crews, the most positive word for their work is wild style. A quick, hastily graffiti is called a throw up.

And indeed, Amsterdam as most of big cities suffers from these throw ups. The problem is especially grave with old buildings, which are not always easy to restore. Therefore, along with the attitude of inclusion towards graffiti artists, there is a wider policy of the administration of giving space for the expression of the youth. Municipality of Amsterdam has built a skater park, helped to open the shops with street style clothes, gave money to organize hip hop concerts and clubs, which along with the annual street art festivals, complete this vast and colorful landscape.

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