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Reading graffiti

From pictures in a cave to aphorisms on a toilet wall, graffiti needs to be reconsidered as the purest art form

By Kevin Jackson   May 2001

Primitive gods, fiends from the pit, shamans and tricksters, shape-shifting spirit animals, aliens and ghosts: the final gallery of the Hayward’s exhibition of photographs by Brassa? is given over to wild supernatural images which might have been found in the caves of our remote ancestors. In fact, they were scratched and scribbled on the walls of Paris from the early 1930s onwards. No doubt, naughty children had been gouging much the same archetypal designs there since the middle ages, but it took an artist of the 20th century, alive to recent discoveries in archaeology and anthropology, to see that they…

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