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5 famous artworks of street art 


street art artworks

What is street art? 

Urban art or street art is an artistic movement and a mode of artistic expression, which asserts itself or claims so from the end of the XXth century. It includes all forms of art made in the public space, and includes various techniques such as graffiti, stencil, mosaic, sticker, poster and collage, advertising or installations such as urban knitting. It should not be confused with art in the city, urban space or public (in English public art), and all projects initiated by public institutions, as were the American Federal Art Project of the 1930s or the experiments conducted in France from the 1960s and 1970s.


The birth of street art: two theories 

Street art was born in the United States in the late 1960s. Cornbread, considered THE pioneer of the Graff movement, signed all the walls of Philadelphia for love of a woman. The local press spotted him and asked him to launch a challenge: put his name in the most impossible places. It is thanks to the media coverage of the challenge that the artistic movement begins to grow, there are many street artists. In the New York subway, the first graffiti are born during this period. The second theory is that street art has more distant origins: in the Valley of the Kings of Egypt, in the Agora of Athens and even on the site of Pompeii because illustrations have been found on stones.  

The goal was above all to be able to transmit religious, political or personal messages. It is a real means of expression which has just been born to pass on information, to make people react and especially to think about mentalities on the space which surrounds us. 


1. Jef Aerosol, Chuuuttt !!!


Jef Aerosol Chuuuttt

Jef Aérosol's self-portrait is located next to the IRCAM, the Centre Pompidou and the Saint-Merri church. It overlooks the Stravinsky fountain, which clashes with the machines of Jean Tinguely and the Nanas of Niki de Saint-Phalle. This gigantic stencil of 350 m2 inaugurated in June 2012 was to be destroyed in early 2014 due to the renovation of the wall. March 2016, not only is the stencil still there, but it is inserted into the urban landscape and becomes a quasi-heritage work.


2. Thoma Vuille, M. Chat

Thoma Vuille is a French-Swiss urban art painter born on July 16, 19771 in Boudry, in the canton of Neuchâtel. He is the creator of the graphic series of Mr. CHAT, a smiling feline character created in the streets of Orleans in an approach combining optimism, transgression and culture of proximity.

Thoma Vuille began painting in the street with acrylics at the age of 15, in memory of his grandfather, a house painter2. After a professional baccalaureate in civil engineering3, he studied at the Institut d'arts visuels d'Orléans from 1995 to 20012. He became known as the author of the Mr. CHAT series, graphic creations representing a yellow-orange cat with a broad smile, usually done with acrylic paint on walls.

The idea came to him in 1997 during a workshop in a school in Orleans during which a little girl drew a cat that inspired the artist. He then undertook to paint his cat on the walls of the city of Orleans, preferably on the roofs, with the sole objective of "putting some human and love in the city: Orleans was a rather gray city and we needed a little bit of sunshine everywhere "4. He intends to convey the optimism of this animal with a broad smile. He signs his works with a mysterious "Mr. CHAT", to "know if a drawing can live without a creator "5. He thus suggests that behind these graffiti lies a collective of artists6. Thoma Vuille then began an international career.


 3. Banksy, The Little Girl with the Balloon

Banksy  The Little Girl with the Balloon artwork
This famous stencil represents a little girl in black and white who sees her red heart-shaped balloon flying away from her. ... In this frame, the girl was veiled and always accompanied by her red heart-shaped balloon, symbol of support and hope for Syria.

4. JR, Inside Out Project

Jr Inside Out Project artwork

French street artist, JR adorns the walls of the world with his huge black and white portraits of anonymous people. Initiated in 2011, his Inside Out project was born thanks to the American TED prize that the artist received for "changing the world".

5. iHeart, Nobody likes me 

Symbol of a hyper-connected society, the work of the Canadian artist iHeart brings us back to the quest for a very current e-reputation. Or how a crying child, smartphone in hand, 

    Street art beginnings in New-york

    Street art painting was born in the subways of New York at the beginning of the 70s. The adventure starts with simple tags (signatures) on the cars, before taking colossal proportions. In a few years, the means of public transport are covered with graffiti of the most varied forms and colors. Quickly, the street artists improve their technique and do not cease to express themselves on always bigger supports.

    In 1980 a law was established to punish the blunderers. The most courageous will then go to paint in the underprivileged districts of New York, rather than in the city itself. This is how the art of graffiti spreads to other big American cities like Chicago, Los Angeles or Washington, with the same spirit in mind: freedom of expression.

     The arrival in Europe

    Street art appeared in the 80's with artists like Bando, Blitz, or Lokiss. At that time the various forms of graffiti and stencil art were considered destructive of other people's property. The authors were liable to fines or even imprisonment.
    However, the "New York" street art will definitely find its place in Paris and will be displayed in privileged places such as the quays of the Seine, the fences of the Louvre or the Georges Pompidou Center. The clandestine dimension awakens the interest of many street artists who devote themselves to the practice. The colors and the subjects are becoming more and more crazy and the panel of techniques is expanding.

    3 Techniques used in street art 

    The graffiti 

    At its origin, the Italian word ''graffiti'' means indifferently to write, draw or paint, before designating later signatures affixed on the walls. The first popular taggers like Futura or Phase 2 will stylize to the extreme their signatures. Phase 2 is the first to draw the outline of the letters of his name and to fill each of them with color. We could think that this is a detail, but his approach will create a revolution in the calligraphy: the graphic quality exceeds the need for legibility.
    the graffiti in the street art

    The pochoir

    The stencil is a very effective way of reproducing drawings or messages in street art. The artist cuts out a shape in a rigid material such as cardboard or plastic and then uses spray paint to fill the cutout.
    Artists like Blek or MissTic wanting to differentiate themselves from the New York tags will illustrate themselves in this practice. The speed of execution being essential for street artists, the art of stencil offers the advantage of multiplying the same pattern many times in a record time.


    The collage

    In this branch of street art, the material used becomes self-adhesive. The technique has the advantage of damaging the surface less than stencils or graffiti. The collage does not require any particular material and the work will remain stuck for months, even years.

    From the street to museums

    Born in the obscure corners of cities, labeled as an illegal and marginal practice, street art has nonetheless earned its letters of nobility and an unprecedented legitimacy. For the past ten years, Street Art has been exploding and exhibiting itself. The Grand Palais and the Fondation Cartier in Paris, the Tate Modern in London and the MOCA in Los Angeles: the greatest cultural venues are snatching up the works of urban artists. Among the great names of today's street art, Shepard Fairey, Banksy and the Frenchman JR make up the top three of the most paid artists.

    Faced with this integration, opinions are divided. If some see it as a deserved recognition, others deplore the sign of a gentrification and the loss of the sulphurous aura of this art. However, several enthusiasts and specialists militate for a better visibility of street art in museums. The President and Founder of the Artistik Rezo association, Nicolas Laugero Lasserre, has lent a hundred works from his collection to give birth to Art42 in Paris, the first street art museum in France. For this enthusiast: "The essence of Street Art, these are militant walls, but in parallel there is a work of workshop. There is a coherence of the two.


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