Books in the MCL: AMSTERDAM ON TOUR. The early signs of Dutch graffiti. 2019.

  • by BLITZ EN

When as a result of films and books such as „Subway Art“, „Wild Style!“ and „Style Wars“ the New York tradition of graffiti writing attracted worldwide attention and, above all, imitators in the early 1980s, so-called namewriting was a completely new phenomenon in many places.

Amsterdam, however, plays a special role in Europe in this respect. Although slogans, phrases and criticism on current political issues such as the expansion of the metro or urban housing policy can also be found here in the seventies, the emergence of the punk movement changed the intention “from activism to egoism”. Since the illegally affixed slogans can often be seen in the city for years, especially punk bands and their fans took advantage of this to advertise with their names in the cityscape.

In AMSTERDAM ON TOUR, Writer AGAIN traces how the writing of individual pseudonyms by a new generation emerged from this movement. For already in 1979, years before graffiti writing comes to Europe from America, Amsterdam is covered with the signatures of THE DUMB, KODIAK STONE, VENDEX or N-POWER.

Parallel to the development of tags into sometimes elaborate calligraphic lettering, often combined with figurative elements, poster and stencil artists like Hugo Kaagman and Diano Ozon also anticipate the visual language and style of street art.

When, from 1983, the Yaki Kornblit Gallery not only exhibited New York graffiti, but also invited writers such as SEEN, FUTURA, BLADE and ZEPHYR, they left their mark on the city and influenced the already existing scene. Locals like SHOE, DELTA and JEZIS adapted the form of the Pieces and decisively shaped the style of the emerging graffiti scene in Central Europe with their styles since the mid-1980s.

The book documents the transition of two independent styles of namewriting in Amsterdam in the eighties with unique historical photos and interviews.

Photos: Steffen Köhler     Text: Sascha Blasche

Find the book in the MCL.