A Brief History of Graffiti

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A BBC Channel 4 production from 2015, Dr Richard Clay tells the story of the history of graffiti. He doesn’t just go back to the Lower East side of Manhattan in the 1970’s either, he goes back 30,000 years to the real beginnings of graffiti – when primitive man would leave their mark on cave walls, through the fan art of the Roman’s, the messages left on the walls of the German Reichstag in 1945 by triumphant Soviet soldiers, and then eventually to the conventional street art made famous in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and then led us to Banksy in the 21st century.

If the history of street art that you are interested in only stretches back around 40 years rather than 30000 years, and is concentrated around New York city and the early hip hop movement, then consider watching the cult classic documentaries Style Wars (1983) and Watching My Name Go By (1976), before checking out our list of the best graffiti documentaries.

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