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The Can't-Miss Street-Art Exhibit

A huge new show in Los Angeles elevates Shepard Fairey, JR, and Banksy to immortal status.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Os Gêmeos, Untitled, São Paulo, 2009

Since the late sixties, when a Greek-American messenger named Demetrius began writing the tag TAKI 183 around New York, renegade painting has evolved from a form of aesthetic confrontation to an international marketing strategy. Now it's getting the full-on white-box treatment: Jeffrey Deitch, the newly minted director of L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art, looks to make his mark with "Art in the Streets," a definitive survey of the genre. The show contains archival photos documenting the work of legends like Quiñones and Chaz, and 36 installations by today's best-known graffiteurs. Parisian photo bomber JR, known for his colossal portraits of the downtrodden in places like Brazil and the West Bank, will transform an exterior wall; inside, look for work from Brazilian twins Os Gêmeos, famed for multistory paintings of sallow giants that suggest the unlikely spawn of Picasso and Shrek. Reports have it that the reclusive yet ubiquitous British artist Banksy, fresh off a pre-Oscars street-art blitzkrieg, will also be participating—although, naturally, the museum refused to confirm this.

Opens April 17 at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA,
152 N. Central Ave.; moca.org

Chaz running in a backstreet near Whittier Blvd in East Los Angeles, 1974
Photo by Gusmano Cesaretti

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