When people think of Italian art they often list names like Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Botticelli. But after living in Italy for a while you begin to notice other, and possibly just as well known, local artists. However, their paintings aren't in museums or high end galleries but on Rome's signs, subway cars and building walls. Despite popular belief, Graffiti did not begin in New York City but in Rome, and comes from the Italian verb "graffiare" which means "to scratch." Today, artists like Hogre can be found all over the city and I am lucky to have one of Hogre's most famous works on my street only two buildings down from my own.
When walking around the streets of Rome, just as one would while touring a museum like the Uffizi, people stop to notice the graffiti on the walls. "Hey, there is a Hogre" tourists and locals alike exclaim as they recognize a stencil by the notorious artist. At home in the United States I've always thought that the existence of graffiti suggests a socioeconomic problem relating to urban decay. Here, I am able to think about graffiti as art. And who knows? One day Hogre could be the next Keith Haring.