The Evolution of Art, When the Street Meets the Gallery

Street Art and Dulwich – At first glance it doesn’t look like the most natural combination but the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery, in it’s own little way has started to turn the concept of street art on it’s head!

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised, art is always evolving and street art should be no different. What some still call graffiti is actually a dynamic, ever changing form of free expression which engages with the viewer as a normal part of their everyday life. The clue is in the name, street art, it’s just that, there is no gallery, no entrance fee and no exclusivity.

The collaboration of street artists reinterpreting works from old masters hanging in the Dulwich Picture Gallery has led to a mutual appreciation of both styles. People who would never have seen either have now experienced both and art is the richer for it.

Girl in a Window by Rembrandt re-imagined by Remi Rough and System

Girl in a Window by Rembrandt re-imagined by Remi Rough and System

Girl at a Window by Rembrandt painted in 1645 and one of the most famous paintings in the Dulwich Picture Gallery

Girl at a Window by Rembrandt painted in 1645 and one of the most famous paintings in the Dulwich Picture Gallery

So how has the Outdoor Gallery affected change? In the same way that art is hung in a gallery, similar considerations have been made on the streets of Dulwich. Walls have been chosen, the environments around them have been considered, the tone of the piece and the palate is thought about in relation to it’s setting. In short, the Outdoor Space has used all the same concepts that one would also use in a more traditional gallery setting.

And what a way of bringing to life the old masters! If engagement was needed with a new generation then look no further. From the streets to the gallery, could this concept be a way of further engaging new audiences with the works of the Baroque?

Art interpreted on the leafy streets of Dulwich includes pieces from Rembrandt, Murillo and Gainsborough. Glorious works of art whose beauty can only be marvelled at inside the gallery are gaining a new audience as people consider the interpretations from the likes of Stik, Reka, Phlegm and ROA outside on the street.

Reka's 'Europa and the Bull'

Reka’s Europa from Guido Reni’s ‘Europa and the Bull’

Detail from the original by Guido Reni courtesy of Dulwich Picture Gallery

Detail from the original by Guido Reni courtesy of Dulwich Picture Gallery

Is it likely that art will gain a wider audience as a result? Of course! The whole point of any marketing strategy should not only be to grow the individual share of the same market but to grow the market itself. Any serious consideration in terms of getting new people interested in art should look at the gateway opportunities available for them to become introduced to art in the first place.

I wonder how many people in the East End of London, where street art is king, have heard of many of the masters in the Dulwich Picture Gallery or even the Gallery itself? A few perhaps, but not many one would have thought. What about those residents of Dulwich, well versed in the glories of Gainsborough, how many of them will have heard of the likes of ROA, RUN and Stik? Would they have realised the extent to which those street artists are regarded around the world?

So the Outdoor Gallery of Dulwich becomes the meeting of the two with consideration given from both genres in order to compliment the other. Art has come together and attitudes towards both have begun to change.

Street Artist RUN re-imagined 'The Triumph of David' by Nicolas Poussin on the side of a house

Street Artist RUN re-imagined ‘The Triumph of David’ by Nicolas Poussin on the side of a house

The Triumph of David by Nicolas Poussin.  Picture courtesy of the Dulwich Picture Gallery

The Triumph of David by Nicolas Poussin. Picture courtesy of the Dulwich Picture Gallery

Street Art, which evolved in the inner cities during the graffiti riddled days of the 70’s and 80’s has changed! A piece of work from Banksy recently sold at auction in Covent Garden for £750,000. A recent work from Stik was sold by a collector for £50,000. The American street artist Shephard Fairey was responsible for creating the iconic ‘Hope’ image of Barack Obama which will go down in history as one of the most important images from that election. David Cameron gave as a gift to the same American President a piece of work from Ben Eine whose star rose after he started on the street writing elaborate graffiti style lettering.

There is no doubt that we are witnessing an evolution and a fast paced one of that. Street Art is changing, attitudes towards it are changing, perceptions on how to interact with the environment from the artists themselves are changing. The Dulwich Outdoor Gallery has contributed significantly to that change and brought a whole new audience to itself as a result.

To find out more information about some of the places mentioned in this article, follow the links below:

Dulwich Picture Gallery – Official Website
Dulwich Outdoor Gallery – Information contained on culture24.org

For some more Inspiring City articles on Dulwich Street Art try:

Baroque the Streets Art Festival in Dulwich
The Outdoor Street Art Gallery of Dulwich
Interview with Ben Wilson, the Chewing Gum Man