Getty “Graffiti Black Book” Enrages Conservatives

A “Book of Friends” sounds like something everyone could get behind. But the Getty Research Institute’s version, the LA Liber Amicorum, a.k.a. the Getty Graffiti Black Book, is drawing fire from conservative bloggers.

The leather-bound book is an album of 143 original drawings by contemporary Los Angeles street and tattoo artists. The Iris blog describes this unusual-for-the-Getty project and has comments from some of the artists. At top is Enk One’s contribution.

The book’s concept draws on street artists’ black books and the Renaissance liber amicorum, Latin for “Book of Friends.” (In this case some of the artists are from rival crews and not on such friendly terms.) The project has mostly gotten appreciative reviews, and the artists involved are talking about it on their own sites. It’s also gotten vitriolic notice on a few conservative websites. A blog called The Thinking Housewife seems to have been the first to notice. It quoted some innocuous remarks from GRI curator David Brafman that were, apparently, enough to make him a conservative anti-celebrity du jour. Some reader comments:

“Mr. Brafman is lower than a cow in a barn gazing at a knothole: the cow does not presume she is looking at art.”

“Mr Brafman is a pimp. Nothing more.”

The Moonbattery blog judged the LA Liber Amicorum to be part of a liberal agenda that includes women in combat, the national debt, Islamic terrorism, and gay adoption. The post, which also ran on RightWing News, says,

“With a straight face, the custodians of culture are telling us that Renaissance masterpieces are of no more value than the mess some crack-addled punk sprays on the side of a derelict tenement. Maybe liberals actually believe in their own intellectual posturing; that is, maybe they are literally insane. Or maybe we are witnessing an act of vandalism that dwarfs all the graffiti in the world. Maybe they are destroying the concept of value on purpose, as Ayn Rand proposed through the character Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead.

Oh, well. For what it’s worth, J. Paul Getty practically was an Ayn Rand character. For more street art hate (and pit bull and fluoridation hate) see this post. Below, a contribution by Patrick Martinez. You can see high-resolution images of all 143 drawings at the Getty site.

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