Om Arkivet. Staffan Jacobson, fil.dr.

Aerosol Art Archives är den kollektion graffitirelaterade dokument som insamlades under mitt avhandlingsarbete 1990-1996 och som därefter kontinuerligt utökats och förnyats. Som forskarstipendiat i USA reste jag från kust till kust och från norr till söder i jakt på målningar, målare, litteratur och experter. Jag fotograferade och intervjuade från Spanish Harlem i N.Y. till Psycho City i San Francisco, och tillbaka i Europa gjorde jag en motsvarande odyssé här, från Mauerpark i Berlin till Amsterdams tunnlar och murar. Nuförtiden är jag fri forskare och författare, och min enda lojalitet är den gentemot graffitiforskningens framgång och utveckling (se ”A brief History of Graffiti Research” nedan). All innovativ forskning uppfattas först som kontroversiell har någon sagt; kanske var det Kuhn & Feyerabend. Prognosen är god, liksom den är för graffitimåleriet och andra nya konstformer som ratats i början.

I Sverige har jag sedan slutet av 80-talet hållit föredrag kring mina diabilder om graffitikonstens historia, och jag har också med jämna mellanrum konsulterats av institutioner som velat öka sin kunskap på området. Arkivet har genom åren servat en mängd uppsatsskrivande studenter på universitet och högskolor. Enskilda graffitimålare hälsar också på för nostalgiska tillbakablickar eller för uppdatering på något särskilt område.
Viss utlåning har förekommit men är numera inte praktiskt möjlig. Däremot går det bra att hälsa på eller beställa kopior. Adressen är Uardavägen 52d, 224 71 Lund. På sikt kommer arkivet antagligen, om omständigheterna så tillåter, att överföras till UB 1 i Lund.

Inventering, Spraykonstarkivet. 20/1 2000

Böcker, avhandlingar och uppsatser:
102 st (se bibliografien)

60 st (se bibliografien)

Tidskrifter & fanzines:155 st
(se bibliografien) Tot. antal tryckta och
utgivna publikationer: 317
Pressklipp om graffiti, Sverige 1973-2000: 7 pärmar, c:a 1000 artiklar

Tidnings- och tidskriftsklipp om graffiti övrigt;
svenska, engelska, tyska och franska: 7 pärmar, c:a 1000 artiklar

Tot. antal tidningsklipp: 2000
Egna diabilder(Europa, USA): 1200 st

Färgfoto papper

Färgfoto negativ


Målningar, original
Tot. antal bilder och
bildåtergivningar: c:a 2200
Videoband/DVD 20 st (se bibliografien)

Ljudband 26 st (se bibliografien)
Tot. antal magn.upptagningar 46
Övrigt graffitirelaterat arkivmaterial

3 pärmar korrespondens, c:a 300 brev Tot. antal brev 300
1 mapp egna intervjuer
1 mapp LKUH spaningsmaterial
2 pärmar klotterbekämpning, olika metoder
1 pärm datasökningar & bibliografier
1 pärm recensioner
Den Spraymålade Bilden 32 ex.
+ div. uppnålade klipp och bilder.

Totalt antal objekt i arkivet 20/1 2000: c:a 5000.

– Kommentar 20/1 2004: ett hundratal objekt har tillkommit, bl.a. böcker och tidningsartiklar.

A brief History of
Graffiti Research.

The first graffito done 3.500 years ago at Sakkara, Egypt.

A) Traditional Graffiti.

The very first graffito was probably done 3.500 years ago by an ancient tourist near by the Sakkara Pyramid, and it goes, with scribbled hieroglyphs: ”I am very impressed by Pharaoh Djosers´ pyramid.” Graffiti has been a common every day life phenomena especially since the days of Ancient Greece. The Vikings, too, left graffiti names with runes from England to Constantinopel.

Graffiti research, however, is more contemporary. The first decades of graffiti research 1600-1800 focus on two Italian issues: The catacombs of Rome and the excavated city Pompeii. The term ”graffiti” is introduced and the methods in use are mainly archeological. Cultural values, not moral ones, are bound to this item.


The catacombs of Rome were built during the 1:st and 2:nd century A.D., then forgotten and later rediscovered. The first one to investigate graffiti in a serious way was the Italian Antonio Bosio. His ”Roma Sotteranea” was written in 1593, published in folio format 1632 and holds a systematic description of official and non-official inscriptions in the catacombs of Rome, complete with maps over the ”secret tunnels”. Bosio also left his own signature in the Priscilla catacomb, but he never used the very word ”graffiti”.


The pseudonym Hurlo-Trumbo published ”The Merry Thought” in London 1731, a poetic record of glass window and bog-house scratchings, not an investigation.

Josef Kyselak (1795-1831) was notoriously writing his name “Kyselak” or “Kyselak war hier!” at all places in Austria-Hungary, many years before ”Kilroy”. During the French Revolution and the days of the Paris Commune there is a growth of political graffiti.


The archeologist Raphael Garucchi was the prime one to use the word graffiti when he researched the ”Graffiti de Pompéi” 1856, and the purpose was to divide official cursive inscriptions from common peoples inscriptions on ancient monuments in the city buried by the volcanic outburst of Vesuvius in the year 79. Pompeii was for a long time forgotten, rediscovered and plundered from 1748 and professionally excavated from 1860. Today 3/4 of the city could be seen.


Withrow, W.H.: The Catacombs of Rome. Nelson & Phillips, N.Y. 1874. p. 59, 60, 130, 148, 174, 175. b/w ill.

In the first half of the 1900:s two other disciplines arrive to this field: ethnographers and linguists. Graffiti is studied as a folkloristic language phenomena, often with emphasis on the ”low” elements. Collecting graffiti is the primary thing and there is still some lack of theory. In the 2:nd WW and the following years a new kind of mobile graffiti took place with the ”Kilroy was here” epidemic, and graffiti is now also seen as a communication code for un-censored personal needs, feelings and opinions.


The work Anthropopytheia was published by F.S. Krauss in Leipzig as 10 yearbooks 1904-1914. Latrinalia etc is documented and discussed from a folkloristic point of view.


Calonne-Beaufaict, M. de: Les graffiti du Mont Gundu. Revue D’Etnographie et de Sociologie, No 3-4, Mars-Avril 1914, p. 109-117.


The linguist Allen Walker Read published ”Lexical Evidence from Folk Epigraphy in Western North America” 1935, a field study of language in graffiti and with a great further influence.


Helen Tanzer described ”The Common People of Pompeii” from graffiti examples.


Article ”Transit Association Ships a Street Car to Shelter Family of ’Kilroy Was Here’ ”. The New York Times, Dec 24, 1946, p. 18. (On James J. Kilroy, Halifax, Massachusetts).


Article ”Who Is ‘Kilroy ?” The New York Times Magazine, Jan 12, 1947, p. 30, (James J. Kilroy, Halifax, Massachusetts, in his own words on the origins of the “Kilroy was here” graffiti.)


Brassai´s( Guyla Halasz, 1899-1984 ) photos of graffiti scratchings on Paris´ house fronts were shown at MoMA, N.Y. 1956-57.


Brassai´s book ”Conversations avec Picasso” was first published by Gallimard, Paris 1964.

Jorn, Asger (ed.): Signes gravés sur les églises de L’Eure et du Calvados. Institut Scandinave de Vandalisme Comparé, København 1964.

In the latter part of the 1900, we can see that the earlier research traditions will continue on one side, dealing with the traditionally forms of graffiti. The Maledicta journal in the USA, the Musée des Graffiti Historique in France, the Graffiti Archive in Kassel and the Institut für Graffiti-forschung in Vienna are some of the most prominent ones; the Art Brut museum in Lausanne should also be mentioned.

Violet Pritchard published English Mediaeval Graffiti in 1967, in 1976 there is the study of Aron Sheon: The Discovery of Graffiti. Art Journal 1/1976, p. 16-22, published on the reception history of traditional graffiti. Margit Etter did a study on Harald Naegellis spray drawings out of Jung: Spray Bilder in Zuerich: Eine psychologische Studie, 1979 and Martin Blindheim wrote Graffiti in Norwegian Stave Churches c: 1150-1350, Oslo 1985. Helen Levitt wrote In the Street 1987 ; Christine Schiavo : A historical analysis of Political graffiti in Belfast an Derry,1988 ; in 1990 came John Bushnell: Moscow Graffiti and 1993 Norbert Siegl: Kommunikation am Klo.

On the other side, there is a new urban kind of graffiti emerging, the aerosol art, and with it comes in turn the sociologists as Castleman, Brewer and Ferrell (USA) and the art historians as Stahl (Köln), Stewart (N.Y), and Jacobson (Sweden). Also, this form for the first time will be the subject of society concern, viewed as either a new art form or a new kind of nuisance, or maybe both. Some graffiti scientists, as professor Peter Kreuzer in München and Ph.D.Jack Stewart in N.Y, will also be dealing with both traditional graffiti (TG) and tags/throw-ups/pieces (TTP).


In the transition phase between TG and TTP during the turbulent late sixties we will see researchers as Robert Reisner, who hold the first university lectures on graffiti and published 4 compilation books 1967-1974 who gave TG an air of cultural entertainment, French-American William McLean who in Encyclopedia Universalis band 7, p. 849.854, Paris 1970, made the first theoretic scientific overview and history up to 1968....

b) Tags/Throw-ups/Pieces.

....and the teacher and activist Herbert Kohl who carefully studied the embryos of TTP in his article ”Names, Graffiti and Culture.” in Urban Review, April 1969, vol 3, nr 5, p. 25-37 and book: ”Golden Boy as Anthony Cool.” A Photo Essay on Naming and Graffiti. Dial Press, N.Y. 1972, which built a much valuable base for further research.


Article ”The Aerosol Autographers - Why They Do It” by Sandy Padwe in Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, May 2, 1971, pp. 8-10, 12, 44 on the origins of TTP with interviews of Cornbread and friends, 1:st graffiti writers ever.

Article ”Taki 183 Spawn Pen Pals” by Don Hogan Charles in The New York Times, July 21, 1971, p. 37 on Taki 183, Julio and the arrival of TTP to New York.


Norman Mailer/Jon Naar/Mervin Kurlansky: The Faith of Graffiti. Alskog Publ. N.Y. 1973. An early photo record and essay.


David Ley & Roman Cybrivsky : Urban Graffiti as Territorial Markers. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 64, nr 4/1974, p. 491-505. Qualified and unusual thesis which among other things deals with the transgression from traditional gang graffiti to graffiti loners, kings and crews.


Craig Castleman: Getting up. Subway Graffiti in New York. MIT Press, Cambr. Mass. 1982.
The first descriptive sociology dissertation on the subway graffiti movement and a mile stone in TTP graffiti research with its sign categories, writers and crews, and the outstanding Lee interview.

Joel S. Feiner/ Stephan Marc Klein: Graffiti Talks. Social Policy, Winter 1982, p. 47-53. Graffiti is seen to work as a rite de passage and a system for social support.


deAk, Edith: Train as Book, Letter as Tank, Character as Dimension. Art Forum, May 1983, p. 88-93. Essential interview with Rammellzee on graffiti theory. There is a reminiscence of Jean Baudrillard (1978) texts here. The revolution of the letters, their individualities and the symbolic, not the phonetic function of the signs are put in an underground, science fiction coloured art context.


Hager, Steven: Hip Hop - the Illustrated History of Break Dancing, Rap Music and Graffiti. St. Martins Press, N.Y. 1984. p. 12-30, 58-80. Hager makes the first attempt to a TTP graffiti history in the hip hop cultural context.


Kreuzer, Peter: Das Graffiti Lexikon. Heyne, 1986. This very broad survey of the graffiti field as a whole is done as a dictionary and continues the history writing task up to 1986.


Skyum-Nielsen, Anna: Graffiti - en kriminologisk undersøgelse. 1987. The first European study on who the writers really are, done by a young female Danish lawyer. Long and qualified interviews. The conclusions in short are that the Danish writers are no hardened criminals, no junkies, not dangerous, but ordinary young middle class people with artistic ambitions and a certain sub cultural life style.


This year was a break through for TTP graffiti research, with two highly skilled art history Ph.D. dissertations:

Stahl, Johannes: Graffiti: zwischen Alltag und Ästhetik. Scaneg, München 1990. 153 p.+ app.& ill. p. 134-142. Doctoral dissertation, Art History. This is a fundamental work above all in its scientific attempt. New historical sources and a theory of graffiti as an estheticised every day phenomena.

Stewart, Jack: Subway Graffiti: An aesthetic study of graffiti on the subway system of New York City, 1970-1978. New York University, N.Y. 1989. 604 p. b/w ill. Stencil. Doctoral dissertation, Art History. This is an utterly informed history writing, the very best up to this date. Comparision between all the TG and TTP information. The body of world graffiti up to 1970 has been without any stylistic evolution or esthetic intention. The pictorial evolution in New York the first decade is followed in detail, and the stylistic expansion is analysed and documented by own photographic evidences. There are some attempts to categorise TTP. An excerpt of the dissertation was published in the catalogue ”Coming from the Subway”. Groninger Museum, Groningen 1992, p. 8-17 with the title MTA - Mass Transit Art.


Miller, Ivor Lynn : Aerosol Kingdom. Yale University, 1990. With emphasis on the cultural background and indigenous character of TTP. Followed up by several articles.

Brewer, Devon: Bombing and Burning.The Social Organisation and Values of Hip Hop Graffiti Writers. Deviant Behaviour, 11/1990, p. 345-369. The basic social functions of the crew are discussed.


Lenore Feltman Proctor : Graffiti writers - an exploratory personality study. Doctoral diss. in psychology, Pace University, N.Y. 1991. By psychologists profiles it confirms that ”the writers” are more original and creative than other compared youngsters.


Brewer, Devon: Hip Hop Graffiti Writers Evaluations of Strategies to Control Illegal Graffiti. Human Organisation, Vol. 51, No 2, 1992, p. 188-196. Important comparison between traditional police work graffiti prevention and legal graffiti prevention alternatives. The latter are found to be more cost-effective and less harmful as they also provides new opportunities for writers.


Ferrell, Jeff: Crimes of Style. Urban Graffiti and the Politics of Criminality. Garland Publ. Inc., N.Y. 1993. 236 p. Criminology study out of the graffiti culture i Denver, Colorado. Analyses the way the authorities construct the image of their ”enemy”, the writers, and the result of a massive anti-graffiti campaign. Facts on the so called connection between graffiti and drugs/serious crimes.


Jacobson, Staffan: The Spray-Painted Image. Graffiti Painting as Type of Image, Art Movement and Learning Process. Art History Ph. D. dissertation. AAA, Lund University, Sweden 1996. TTP as a concept dividing it from other types of graffiti. The meaning of the pictures is penetrated by combining art history and youth research methods. The dancing wild style letters are the main contribution from the youth culture to art history. The Thomas Ziehe theory of a ”unusual process of learning” is applied to the praxis of TTP.With a large bibliography; eventually seen as the most intrinsic study of TTP so far.

Stampa Alternativa/IG Times(ed.): Style. Writing from the Underground. Viterbo, Italy 1996. 120 p. Ill. Photo book with an unique pictorial material from the staff of the IG Times, right from the sources.

Weindl, Astrid (ed): Theorie des Style. München 1996. Important and innovative, this catalogue points to the future of ”digital style” letter design. Style Only Workgroup plays a crucial roll here.


Merle, Florence: The International Graffiti Movement. Ph.D. Diss. in Anthropology, Princeton University 1998. With European approach.

As there were a lot of compilation text graffiti books and small sociology surveys in the 60`s and the 70´s, in the late 1990`s and the early new millennium there are o lot of compilation picture graffiti books as the editions of Schwartzkopf and Aragon in Germany, and a flora of fanzines, videos and web sites. Art work collections could now be found in the Museum of the City of New York, at the Danish Twisted Minds organisation, by private collectors as Sam Esses and Henk Pinjenburg and in many Dutch museums.At the beginning of 2000 aerosol art has finally conquered the entire planet, which can be seen on the huge and always up to date Art Crimes web site, run by Susan Farrall. The scientific research, still young, continue to grow and refine its methods, theory and execution. Graffiti research now has quite a solid foundation and a variety of disciplines are involved.

Staffan Jacobson, Ph.D.

Aerosol Art Archives
Lund, Sweden

...and one of the latest: Os Gemeos from Sao Paolo.