Sign up for our free newsletter
In the age of government and nonprofit patronage of graffiti, it’s easy to see the form as meaningless. But street art—the kind that still happens on the street—hardly felt bereft of intellect this year. In fact, it might have had too many ideas. Inkognito, a prolific pair of high-school-age wheatpasters, were upset when their signature image—a mustachioed scenester wearing a fedora—was compared to Mr. Brainwash, the street artist of dubious talent who was the unwitting subject of Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop documentary. But Inkognito was engaging in the same kind of politically pointed, phenomenological agitprop as the film’s director: In the post-Banksy generation, street art can be both commentary and meta-commentary, guerrilla medium and lucrative high art. But merely meta wasn’t meta enough for another anonymous collective, Milbansky, which blanketed parts of D.C. with images of Washington Post politics scribe Dana Milbank. When asked to explain themselves, the Milbanksies didn’t show much self-awareness. “We thought his image would foster discussion about journalism, marketing and the trend toward super-local news,” they wrote in a lengthy, mostly joyless manifesto. Sigh. You never heard this sort of crap from Cool “Disco” Dan.