Graffiti is a general term that describes inscriptions on a wall, a practice with ancient origins, ranging from simple drawings and writings to elaborate pictorial representations. Nowadays, the term graffiti commonly describes the street art dedicated to wall paintings, which raises complex questions, including sociological, legal, political and aesthetic issues. Here we examine the aesthetics of graffiti colors by quantitatively characterizing and comparing their chromatic structure to that of traditional paintings in museums and natural scenes obtained by hyperspectral imaging. Two hundred twenty-eight photos of graffiti were taken in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The colors of graffiti were represented in a color space and characterized by several statistical parameters. We found that graffiti have chromatic structures similar to those of traditional paintings, namely their preferred colors, distribution, and balance. In particular, they have color gamuts with the same degree of elongation, revealing a tendency for combining similar colors in the same proportions. Like more traditional artists, the preferred colors are close to the yellow–blue axis of color space, suggesting that graffiti artists’ color choices also mimic those of the natural world. Even so, graffiti tend to have larger color gamuts due to the availability of a new generation of synthetic pigments, resulting in a greater freedom in color choice. A complementary analysis of graffiti from other countries supports the global generalization of these findings. By sharing their color structures with those of paintings, graffiti contribute to bringing art to the cities.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited