Street art

Street art

  • Documentaries

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New York street art by Elbow-Toe.

Some see it as a way of reclaiming public space, to others it's reckless vandalism.

In the year Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie spent £1m on works by British stencil artist Banksy, this two-part series explores the global boom in street art.

The series looks at the phenomenon of street art in two very different cities, New York and Sao Paulo.

Taking to the streets, Joby Waldman meets Elbow-Toe and Nunca. Each artist is a symptom of their age, and their neighbourhood.

Joby accompanies them while they work and meets their artistic circles, creating a highly personal audio portrait of the personalities behind the paint.

The series looks at the relationship between street art and graffiti, the interaction of global and local influences on the art found in each city, and how the rise of street art sales has led to an increase in paintings disappearing from the street - only to reappear on ebay.

Programme one focuses on New York through the eyes of Elbow-Toe.

Despite his frivolous name, Elbow-Toe is a serious painter.

Art school educated, he operates from his studio in Brooklyn where he makes original artworks and prints which he then pastes on the walls of his neighbourhood, and increasingly in galleries around the world.

This programme joins him on a late night fly-posting mission in Brooklyn. What motivates a married man in his mid 30's to risk imprisonment for the sake of art?

We also hear from one of graffiti's earliest practitioners - Json aka Terror 161, who painted subway trains back in the early 1970s, and from the MTA staff responsible for cleaning graffiti off the subway.

As street art moves into the gallery - can it retain its countercultural credibility? Is painting the streets just an alternative way for art school graduates to get noticed?

First broadcast 21 November 2008

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