The Art of Architectural Graffiti, According to Instagram

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

Graffiti is a word weighed down by negative connotations, primarily due to its inherently illicit nature. The word has long been owned by hooded figures that emerge in the dead of night armed with spray paints, scrawling tags across the external surfaces of buildings and bridges, leaving their mark against the will of the city.

However, the skillful techniques used in this dark art have also been harnessed by completely legal and highly talented artists who possess incredible powers to enhance architecture with their work rather than degrading it. In these instances, graffiti becomes street art, and many design firms appreciate that this medium can add a new dimension to the everyday building elements we often take for granted.

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One such company is Raydoor — manufacturer of sliding doors used in projects such as k YODER design’s Society Hill Townhouse — which encouraged artists to unleash their creativity on its products for the second annual Dwell on Design New York. The resulting exhibition, entitled “The Art of Division,” reveals the potential of combining edgy street art culture and high-end design.

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The company captured the work in progress on their Instagram feed, which got us thinking: what kind of relationship now binds architecture, graffiti, and social media in the modern age? This gallery gives a glimpse of the playful overlap between these perpetually entwined disciplines …

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Australian artist Fintan Magee creates huge-scale artworks that frequently expand to fill entire façades, transforming buildings into full-bleed canvases. There is also an architectural influence within the images Magee portrays, houses often being used as metaphors for political statements and financial burdens.

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The aptly named omuf_graffiti_architecture channels the spirit of Magee’s surrealist images, but their style will be more immediately recognizable to architects: the artist uses buildings as a gargantuan drawing board, crafting detailed sections, axonometrics, and perspectives complete with people that lend each painting a great sense of scale.

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Mysterious French artist JR — a global phenomenon whose true identity remains unconfirmed — doesn’t practice graffiti with spraypaint, but the scale of his street art is unparalleled. JR flyposts huge photographic images on buildings across the globe, describing the street as “the largest art gallery in the world”. He has created notable artworks within architectural icons from the Pantheon in Rome, Italy, to the Tate Modern in London, United Kingdom.


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Spotted by Instagram user architecturalsavannah — by an unknown author. Was Le Corbusier a graffiti artist by night? We may never know for sure …

Top image: an image from JR’s “Women Are Heroes” series, via Share America.

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Coutume Cart Paris Finnish Institute // CUT architectures

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A House in memory of Rostam // Sohrab Rafat Architecture Group