If you’re a fan of urban art or abstract expressionist works, we encourage you to explore Saatchi Art’s global selection of spray paint paintings for sale. Surprisingly, spray paint paintings have technically existed thousands of years before the invention of the aerosol spray can or air brush--when prehistoric peoples used their mouths to moisten and blow pigment onto cave walls. This created a splatter effect not unlike that of some modern-day spray paint applicators. Today, the medium is typically associated with either graffiti art or utilitarian tasks, but many fine art painters also use everyday spray paint within the studio, often in addition to brushes.
Spray paint paintings originated in prehistoric times, when people blew pigment through hollow bones to paint cave walls. The rise of industrialization in the late 1800s led to the creation of the first modern airbrush, which was used to produce finely detailed images used in manuals, advertisements, and magazines. In the 1950s, many painters utilized spray paint to produce abstract color field compositions. The 1970s and 1980s witnessed the birth of the graffiti boom in New York City. Street artists embraced aerosol spray paints and airbrushes, covering public spaces with subversive visual commentary on sociopolitical topics like class, race, and gender. Artists today continue this tradition of rebellion both inside and outside of the studio, using spray paint to beautify and educate the urban jungle.
Spray paint artists employ a variety of spray paint painting techniques. Many artists who work with airbrushes, which are used to add fine details to works, usually employ a freehand method and manually gauge air pressure to achieve varying paint densities. Street artists pull from graffiti methods and motifs like oversized bubble lettering and stencils. Many of these painters also produce murals on walls, billboards, buses, and other objects in the urban environment. These murals often contain messages related to current social and political issues, staying true to the origins of street art.
Street artists and those associated with the color field movement of the 1960s are known for creating spray paint paintings. Fred Brathwaite and Lee Quinones, most known for graffitiing “Stop the Bomb” on a subway car (1979), are some of the earliest and most known street artists of the New York boom. Jean-Michel Basquiat used spray paint in his early SAMO days as well as to touch up his later paintings. Street artist Banksy is also known for spray painting his witty stencils in works like “Balloon Girl.” Jules Olitski and Dan Christensen are among the artists who experimented with aerosol paints in the 1960s. Other artists known for dabbling with spray paint include Shepard Fairey, Mr. Brainwash, Man Ray, Wassily Kandinsky, Richard Saba, and Kenneth Showell. Today, Brandon McConnell is one of the more popular modern spray paint artists with an extensive following on Youtube.