July 1–29, 2021

Online course

Teacher: Javier Abarca

Understanding Street Art 2021

Understanding Street Art is a four-week online course offering a detailed exploration of street art, from the humblest interventions to the large-scale murals. It studies its history in depth, dissects its inner workings as an art practice, and lays out an incisive critical analysis of its politics.

The course is designed and taught by Javier Abarca, one of the leading thinkers in the field, with 15 years of experience teaching these topics internationally at university level. The program features Q&A sessions with guest artists and other extras.

Guest artists:
Eltono (FR)

Lectures are freely streamable, and the main scheduled events take 2 hours per week. You retain access to all lectures and recordings of live events after the course ends.

Taught in English.

This course offers the following content:


Video-lectures you can stream freely
Ten hours of dynamic, immersive and carefully illustrated content, featuring exclusive and unpublished images

Weekly seminars
Thursdays 6–8pm (GMT+1)
Q&A and discussion with the teacher on Zoom
Each seminar explores one lecture from the program

Guest artists
Q&A sessions on Zoom
Eltono (FR) | July 5 (monday) 6–8pm (GMT+1)
MOMO (US) | July 26 (monday) 6–8pm (GMT+1)

Weekly watch parties
Fridays 6pm (GMT+1)
Discover lesser-known treasures with friends and a chat

Thematic chats on Telegram
Share and discuss information with other street art enthusiasts

Permanent access
You retain access to lectures and recordings of live events after the course ends

One-to-one mentoring sessions
Booked separately


Upcoming enrollment:
October 2021


20% descuento
estudiantes y desempleados
SÓLO 150€

Envíanos tu email y te escribiremos

About the teacher

Javier Abarca

Javier Abarca (Madrid 1973) is one of the leading thinkers in the field of graffiti and street art. A key artist in the first generation of Spanish graffiti, he taught a pioneering 4-month course on these topics at the Complutense University of Madrid between 2006 and 2015. He works internationally as an educator, researcher and author.

After teaching widely for 15 years, Abarca founded the Urbanario School, an online academy for advanced education about graffiti, street art and related topics. Since 2008 he has run the website Urbanario, the essential source for graffiti and street art research in Spanish language. He is also the founder and director of the groundbreaking events Unlock Book Fair and Tag Conference.


Lecture 1

In the 60’s, tactics such as performance or land art allowed artists to break free from the conventions of art.

This same urge brought about experiments we now would call street art. Most approaches and techniques of street art were explored by artists in the 60’s and 70’s.

Street art as a movement took shape in the 80’s, from the convergence of contemporary art with advertising, graffiti and punk.

Lecture 2

The popularity of street art waned in the late 80’s, and most local scenes vanished with it.

The 90’s saw little activity in general. The two main exceptions were Revs and Shepard Fairey, two very different but equally influential artists.

The monumental and visionary work developed by Revs and Fairey in the nineties laid the first foundations of what street art would become in the next decade.

Lecture 3

By the start of the 21st century, the internet resurrected street art, now as a closely connected global scene.

This lecture examines the keys to understanding street art in its blossoming years. Its techniques, its ethics, its shifting tastes and audiences, and its difficult relation with graffiti.

Also its strategies, from quasi-advertising campaigns to site-specific interventions, from inconspicuous pieces to large works painted with pole and roller.

Lecture 4

The irruption of institutional murals in the 2010’s caused a radical shift in the idea of ‘street art’. Smaller, ephemeral works lost their prominence in the collective imaginary, blinded by the impact of monumental formats.

This lecture makes use of this contrast to discover and study the hidden mechanisms that make uncommissioned street art a unique art form. In particular its contextual and temporal dimensions, and its relation with human scale.

Lecture 5

Street art and society interrelate in paradoxical ways. Street art operates in a limbo between activism and advertising. Society represses street art with one hand and exploits it with the other.

This lecture covers the main topics studied in our course “Street Art, Society and Politics”. Surprising practices such as artivism and ‘buff’ art, thorny issues such as appropriation and gentrification, and the problematic transition from the street to the gallery.


Eltono Urbanario School

Eltono (FR)

July 5 (monday)
6–8pm (GMT+1)

Eltono was one of the earliest instigators of today’s street art, and has become a key figure for understanding the transition to murals and galleries. Through two decades of work he patiently built his own audience, and his contributions towards the maturation of the practice are difficult to overestimate.

In our meeting with Eltono we will look into his lesser-known foundational work, and learn about the concepts he works with today. Javier Abarca has had privileged access to Eltono’s processes since the late 90’s, and has worked with him as a curator in groundbreaking museum exhibitions.

MOMO urbanario school


July 26 (monday)
6–8pm (GMT+1)

MOMO is probably the most underrated American street artist. Always years ahead of the scene, he is known as the key figure in the introduction of abstraction as a standard language.

In his abstract approaches of the mid-2000’s MOMO found that sweet spot between accessibility and depth of reading only the most relevant street art projects hit. Yet the work came too early and found scarce public.

Over the years, awareness and appreciation of his figure has consistently grown, and he has progressively focused on ever-more sophisticated studio and mural work.

In our meeting with MOMO we will look into his practice and discover surprising, unpublished work from two decades ago. Javier Abarca has worked with MOMO in books and exhibitions since 2010.



Seminar 1
Thursday July 1
6–8pm (GMT+1)
Introduction to the course and discussion of the lecture “Street Art, From the 60’s to the 80’s”. You will get access to the lecture one week before the course starts.

Seminar 2
Thursday July 8
6–8pm (GMT+1)
Discussion of the lecture “Street Art in the Nineties”.

Seminar 3
Thursday July 15
6–8pm (GMT+1)
Discussion of the lecture “The Decade of Street Art: 2000–2010”.

Seminar 4
Thursday July 22
6–8pm (GMT+1)
Discussion of the lecture “From Street Art to Murals, What Have We Lost?”.

Seminar 5
Thursday July 29
6–8pm (GMT+1)
Discussion of the lecture “The Politics of Street Art”. The lecture is full of hot topics, and, this being the closing seminar, it may extend beyond its scheduled time.


Guest artist: Eltono (FR)
July 5 (monday)
6–8pm (GMT+1)

Guest artist: MOMO (US)
July 26 (monday)
6–8pm (GMT+1)


Every Friday
6pm (GMT+1)
Approximately 1 hour each



Freely streamable
10 hours

The lectures are immersive and entertaining and lay out complex issues in simple terms, providing an accessible window to this often obscure field. They allow both specialists and newcomers to delve into an in-depth study of the intricacies of street art and overlapping practices as they interrelate with society.

Javier Abarca’s lectures are the product of a whole life of research, networking and reflection, and have been worked on and improved for 15 years. He has shared them with hundreds of students of every background, both in academic and independent settings.

The lectures are profusely illustrated with high-quality images and videos, including exclusive and unpublished material.

You can stream the lectures anytime, and you retain access to them after the course ends.

Weekly seminars

Thursdays 6–8pm (GMT+1)
Live on Zoom
Streamable afterwards
10 hours

Javier Abarca is known for his influential ideas, uniquely revealing critical approaches, and privileged access to obscure topics. The live seminars provide opportunity for questions, reflection and debate with one of the leading thinkers in the field of street art.

Each weekly seminar is dedicated to one of the video-lectures in the course’s program. You watch the lecture during the week at your own pace, then meet with the teacher and the rest of the students to talk over its topics.

The seminars are recorded and streamable, and you retain access to them after the course ends.

Guest artists

Live on Zoom
Streamable afterwards
4 hours

The course includes two live Q&A sessions with guests. In these meetings students get privileged access inside the processes and motivations of key artists, selected by the teacher among the most forward-thinking and reflective actors in the scene.

The events are recorded and streamable, and you retain access to them after the course ends.

Guest artist: Eltono (FR)
July 5 (monday)
6–8pm (GMT+1)

Guest artist: MOMO (US)
July 26 (monday)
6–8pm (GMT+1)

Watch parties

Fridays 6pm (GMT+1)
Approximately 1 hour each

At our weekly watch parties you can get together with our community of street art enthusiasts and discover lesser-known treasures from the depths of the internet, selected by the teacher throughout his years of research.

The teacher presents the videos and everyone can chat.

Telegram chats

Our thematic Telegram chats are a great space for our community of street art enthusiasts to meet, share infomation and discuss specialised topics.

Graffiti chat
Join and discuss everything related to graffiti, from its historic precedents to its contemporary incarnations.

Street art chat
Join and discuss the history, current news and other information about uncommissioned street art, its artists and its artworks.

Politics chat
Join and discuss how graffiti, street art and society interrelate, and the problematic issues that arise from their confluence: commercialisation, co-optation, gentrification, and the world of exhibitions and murals related to street art.


You can get a certificate of attendance after completing your course.

Rafael Schacter (UK)Professor, critic and curator | University College London
Read More
Javier Abarca is an inspirational thinker, theorist, and teacher. He understands graffiti from the position both of a practitioner embedded in the subculture, and of an educator able to translate this visual and cultural world into the space of the classroom and the street. Javier’s teaching and mentoring will benefit all those who he comes into contact with; artists, students, and art professionals alike.
Pedro Soares (PT)Professor | Founder and director, Lisbon Street Art and Urban Creativity Conference | Universidade de Lisboa
Read More
With an intense and thought-provoking character, Javier Abarca is guarantee of the sharpest and more unconstrained thoughts about graffiti. This free-thinker is simultaneously a pioneer of the most underground side of graffiti and the author of the first Spanish-language PhD-level thesis about graffiti and street art
Pietro Rivasi (IT)Critic and curator | Creator of Icone Festival, founded in 2002
Read More
Javier Abarca is the kind of researcher graffiti culture needs: he has a strong background in the scene, curiosity and an extraordinary storytelling capacity. An impressive, top-level divulgator.
Carlo McCormick (US)Author, critic and curator
Read More
With his head in the rigors of academia and his feet on the streets, Javier Abarca is one of the most compelling and erudite guides to urban aesthetic and practice out there. His intelligence and remarkable understanding are secondary only to the exceptional generosity by which he shares his great learning with others.
Robert Kaltenhäuser (DE)Critic and curator | Museum für Visuelle Dissidenz
Read More
In addition to his virtually unparalleled achievements for independent research and networking in the field of Urban Art, Javier Abarca has been one of the standout forward thinking curators and critics in and on the genre ever since he raised his substantive voice.
Lachlan Macdowall (AU)Professor and author | University of Melbourne | Director, MIECAT Institute | Author of «Instafame, Graffiti and Street Art in the Instagram Era»
Read More
Javier Abarca is one the foremost scholars of graffiti, street art and urban creativity. As a practitioner, theorist, author, publisher and adventurer, Javier brings decades of experience, an encyclopaedic knowledge of urban creativity in all its forms and a restless curiosity to his craft.
Richard Brook (UK)Professor and author | Manchester School of Architecture, Art and Design
Read More
Javier Abarca is one of the world's leading thinkers on graffiti and art in the urban environment. He has tirelessly promoted critical approaches that help to understand the value and values of ephemeral art movements of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His work is crucial in discourses around public space, spatial justice and rights to the city.
David Demougeot (FR)Director, Bien Urbain festival
Read More
For many years Javier Abarca has studied independent public art as a complex subject, dealing with topics such as art history, societal changes, underground cultures and media dissemination. Avoiding clichés and snobbery, he manages to deliver his precise and relevant thoughts in a fluent and reachable way, naming the issues as no one else.
Dumar NovYork (US)Author of «What do One Million JA Tags Signify?»
Read More
Javier Abarca has proven himself to be a leading expert in the field of Graffiti Studies as well as a detail-oriented producer of graffiti related events. His Unlock Book Fair is a pioneering happening which always brings fascinating perspectives and avant-garde approaches to interpreting the writing on the wall.
Andrea Caputo (IT)Publisher and architect | Editor of «All City Writers»
Read More
Javier Abarca has not just witnessed the Graffiti Writing movement as one of the pioneers of the Spanish and Madrilenian scenes. Through the past decades, he has built a long-time investigation on the development of Graffiti Writing style, techniques and behaviors though countless international contributions.
Ulrich Blanché (DE)Professor and author | University of Heildelberg | Author of «Banksy, Urban Art in a Material World»
Read More
Javier Abarca is one of the most important graffiti and street art researchers worldwide. His groundbreaking texts on topics such as the punk side of graffiti, Brazil stencil pioneer Alex Vallauri, or the significance of the human scale in illegal street art, have been especially important for my own research.
Peter Bengtsen (DK)Lund University | Author of «The Street Art World»
Read More
As the person behind the Unlock Book Fair and the Tag Conference, Javier Abarca is a central figure in the community of researchers focused on graffiti and street art. He has a long history of thinking and writing about these topics and, crucially, emphasizes the importance of paying attention to not just centrally-placed and flashy graffiti pieces and large-scale murals, but also to out-of-the-way and less conspicuous interventions.
Ilaria Hoppe (DE)Professor | Institute of Contemporary Arts and Media, Katholische Privat-Universität Linz
Read More
Javier Abarca is one of the most interesting graffiti researchers worldwide. On the one hand, his extensive knowledge comes directly from the street, as he is one of the pioneers of the writing scene in Spain; on the other hand, he looks back on many years of research and teaching within academia. He also initiated the Tag Conference and the Unlock Book Fair, which have become important events of critical graffiti research at the interface between subculture and scholarship.
Understanding Street Art 2021
GET A 50% discount
if you are based in the following areas:
• Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece)
• South and Central America, Mexico
Scroll to Top
Esta web utiliza cookies. Puedes ver aquí la política de cookies.    Más información