Evaluating historic graffiti based on cultural significance and definitions of art

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Many examples of historic graffiti have been shown to be worthy of attention and conservation. The examples discussed in this article have been selected for their previous academic study, enabling rational assessment. This work does not suggest that only those examples of historic graffiti that have been subject to academic investigation can be evaluated and classified. This article, the result of a collaboration between two individuals with complementary interests in building conservation and contextual studies in art and design, brings together formal techniques used in the assessment of cultural significance in traditional architectural conservation and established theories in the evaluation of art. It is the purpose of this work to help those who are attempting to evaluate the merit of graffiti to do so.

The current Scottish system that assesses cultural significance may be incomplete in its evaluation of graffiti. This necessitates a supplementary investigation of the artistic characteristics and merit of graffiti.

Almost all graffiti could be said to be 'art', using established definitions, but not 'good' art. This evaluation may only be undertaken by experts, as with other aspects of identification of cultural significance within the built environment.

Keywords: art; cultural significance; graffiti; historic

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jepc.2.2.113_1

Affiliations: Heriot-Watt University

Publication date: July 12, 2012

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  • The Journal of European Popular Culture investigates the creative cultures of Europe, present and past. Exploring European popular imagery, media, new media, film, music, art and design, architecture, drama and dance, fine art, literature and the writing arts, and more, the journal is also of interest to those considering the influence of European creativity and European creative artefacts worldwide.
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