Graffiti in Athens

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Graffiti in Athens is as old as the city itself. In ancient times graffiti was carved into buildings, in fact the word comes from the Greek graphi which means to write. During the Nazi occupation, the Civil War and the 1967 Junta political graffiti was common in Athens and served a purpose. Nowdays it is mostly the work of frustrated kids whose signatures all over the city seem like a cry for help to a world that does not notice that they exist. But there is also a large amount of graffiti that is good art and walking around Athens looking for it is as fun a way to spend a day as any. The best is probably on the ILPAP Building where the pedestrionized bottom of Ermou Street meets Pireos in front of the Gazi. This is the building that houses the city trolley buses and the graffiti was painted by a group of well known international graffiti artists. It has not been kept up and could use some restoration but is impressive for its size, design and colors. Other areas popular with graffiti artists are the Plaka, Gazi, Psiri and Exarchion neighborhoods as well as along the lines of the Pireaus metro.

ATHENS is not a city one normally associates with a creative street art culture. Yet, as Jerry Goldstein records in this 336-page, superbly illustrated hardback, wonderful works of street art can be found by exploring the backstreets of the Greek capital, in spaces not immediately obvious or visible. Most of the groundbreaking 410 murals and street logos in this book were produced between 2006 and 2007. As much of this artwork has since disappeared, this book is both a record of the boundless creativity of the genre and an appreciation of its artists. It will inspire and inform enthusiasts and students of street and urban culture alike and will enthral all those interested in the contemporary Greek art scene.

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