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Le Pressionnisme, The Masterpieces of Graffiti on Canvas at the Pinacothèque de Paris

The Pinacothèque in Paris extended the exhibition Le Pressionnisme until October 18th 2015. The large exhibition showcases nearly one hundred canvases produced from the 1970s to the 1990s. It features work by an array of New York and European artists including Taki 183, Phase 2, Dondi, Rammellzee, Lee Quinones, Mode 2, Bando, Jean-Michel Basquiat, JonOne, Tracy 168, Futura 2000, Seen, Blade and many other masters.

Graffiti art on canvas began in 1972 with Hugo Martinez’s United Graffiti Artists group and continued through the years a symbiotic relationship with its illegal graffiti counterpart. It claimed further visibility in the 1980s, exhibited in New York at such venues as the Sidney Janis Gallery and the Tony Shefarzi Gallery. Work featured in pioneering collections such as these is on display at the Pinacothèque, which includes an early piece by United Graffiti Artists member Coco.



Yet the show is more than a chronological history lesson. Its strength is its focus on the breadth of approach taken by graffiti artists towards their work: wild style, abstraction, conceptualism, expressionism, as well as sketches and blackbook work. This includes Tracy 168’s Wild Style, Rammellzee's Gothic Futurism, Phase 2’s Impact Expressionism, canvas-burners by Dondi, figuration by Futura 2000, JonOne's Abstract Expressionism, and much more.

The exhibition is an attempt to provoke a re-evaluation of the achievements of graffiti art and its place in art history, and to side step the limiting preconceptions sometimes associated with the movement. As such, the neutral term Le Pressionnisme is coined for the show. The exhibition draws attention to the complexity of the graffiti artists’ aesthetic and theoretical intentions, as well as the ingenuity of their techniques and legacy of their impact. It is a tour de force for the Pinacothèque. Will the term Le Pressionnisme catch on? Perhaps that’s not the point. The exhibition is to be applauded for its celebration of the ever-relevant depth and potency of graffiti art.

Pinacothèque de Paris