Is street art … art?

Is street art … art?

I’ve often asked myself this question as I’ve strolled the streets of Paris. And now, thanks to an exhibit at Paris’ Musée de La Poste, I can answer with a definitive “YES.”

The exhibit Au-delá du Street Art brought together the work of many well-known urban artists including Miss.Tic, Banksy, Dran, Invader, Swoon and Shepard Fairey.

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I loved Dran’s droll take on TinTin’s adventures in France. “Because of a strike, no trains will run today,” reads the sign.

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I also loved seeing Invader’s mosaics up close, along with a video of him working.

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I was stunned by the quality of some of the works …

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… amused by their subversive humor  …

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… and charmed or moved by a few others.

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I enjoyed seeing the next generation of street-artists-in-the-making, huddled here for a lecture about Dran’s methods and message.

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But most of all I loved seeing Miss.Tic’s work in the museum …

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… and then recognizing it again on the streets of Paris. “I know who painted this!” I felt like telling the oblivious passersby.

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For me, that’s one of the cool things about street art: It fades into the background until you notice it. But once you notice it, you see it everywhere — like these slightly, um, enhanced “Do not enter” signs by Chet Abraham.

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Soon, I was spotting fun variations, like this one in the Marais

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… and this one, just outside the Palais de Justice

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… and this one, near a row of restaurants along the Quai St. Michel

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… and these, near the Place Dauphine.

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I even found a knock-off of The Vitruvian Man!

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So by the time I saw Abraham’s work included in an ad paid for by the city of Paris, I wasn’t too surprised.

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There are some who say street art makes the city look dirty and sloppy, that it’s vandalism of private property.

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But others maintain that street art is our zeitgeist … an expression of who we are.

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Regardless of how you feel about it, I hope you can at least agree that it’s art.

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And if you don’t like it? Don’t worry. What’s here today …

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… will be gone tomorrow.

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This is street art. Grrrrrr!

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352 comments

  1. Fascinating, thanks for compiling these! Forgive me if you’re written about this before and I’ve missed it, but do you see much, or any, street art in the Twin Cities? I bet it’s out there, somewhere…

  2. I’ve always enjoyed your photography of this great city. Now that Google Reader will soon be gone, I’m switching my WP blogs to their reader. Not my first choice, but the alternative is to stop reading altogether.

  3. Lovely article! I love street art and took photos of it all around the world during a trip around the world recently. I think it is definitely ART but accessible art! Nice to read your thoughts on it!

  4. Lovely photographs. Street art is democratic and accessible, that’s why the “is it art?” question is even asked at all. We’ve turned art into something usually only the wealthy have access to….it’s a sad loss. I see graffiti artists as the buskers of the painting world 🙂

    • Great to hear you have so many busker friends, they’re often interesting people (and you are who you hang out with, of course!). A propos of nothing, your gravatar is painfully adorable!!

      • You are so correct, sugarabstinence — buskers are generally a fascinating lot. I’m working on a series about buskers, in fact, because I’ve grown so curious about their lives. That one will probably end up being a travel article, but I’ll publish some snippets here too. Oh, and I’m glad you like my gravatar. My whiskers are even longer, now that I’ve given up tweezing. Ha.

  5. The photographs are amazing–thanks for a great post!

    That being said, I totally philosophically disagree with your point. If any of these works were done on an individual’s private property, then someone’s rights have been violated. And when someone’s actual rights are violated, it is disingenuous to call it art rather than vandalism. If you punch me in the face, it is a moral evasion if you call your action “sports” or “training.”

    Now all those unnecessary signs but up by the government, that’s another story . . . 🙂

    • I basically agree! Most of the street art IS artistic. Considering it’s on public property or a privately owned building that services a public property, it is also vandalism. That said. It’s art…just illegal art. 😀

  6. Tremendous! Absolutely mind boggling! YES it is art. As we say hear in Georgia, USA ….if that ain’t art, well then….grits ain’t groceries. eggs ain’t poultry and Mona Lisa was a man….

  7. Why specialise in ‘street’? Is art art? Only if the ‘right’ person says it is! Monet in his blue period has been identified as a victim of glaucoma but lauded by the ‘experts’. Van Gogh painted what he perceived, sunflowers, a classic example of what he was actually seeing at the time, however multiple millions are being spent on the products of his dementia. Street art is almost instantaneous by necessity and perhaps by that nature more acceptable as art than what we see in the Sistine Chapel given the time allowed. Loved the post by the way, congratulations on being ‘Fresh pressed’!
    Ned

  8. It definitely is art at one of its most beautiful forms! Loved it. Your photos are amazing, so is your post. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  9. Street art have always been something precious to me. Walking around in town, feeling sad and alone like no one else is out there. And suddenly discover a piece of art, right there on a ice cold block of stone. It’s priceless and in many ways the highlight on my journy home from work or school.

  10. Wow. These are pretty cool. I’ve often been impressed by the artistry of some graffiti I’ve passed by. But those signs where people have added to them? Hilarious! Great post.

  11. These photos are a welcome glimpse of these artists. I find street art much more interesting than art in a museum. Art is so much more living and breathing in a natural setting than a gold-framed master trapped in a museum. Congrats on Fresh Press.

    • Thanks for your very kind note, Mad Queen Linda! I very much like your point about art that is “living and breathing in a natural setting.” Hadn’t thought of street art that way …

      Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting!

  12. Street Art is always a form of art to me, the most “WOW” moments I’ve gotten from walking on a normal dull and grey street and then got surprised by a beautiful and colourful piece on the wall..sometimes on the ground 🙂

    • There were quite a few of the works I’d not seen before so that was really interesting. The Tin Tin images really made me smile as the last time I was in Paris there was a rail strike also. But the Banksy pieces just really appeal to my sense of humour. Great post and very much enjoyed it.

  13. Fantastic post and brilliant pictures. Its definitely art an I like it. The way the artist adapts to the conditions and canvas to produce creative, thought provoking, humorous work is very impressive.

  14. Nice post and congratiulations on being freshly pressed!

    I’m also of the opinion that most of the claimed street art is actually art. It’s a new form of expression and the most charming thing about this for me is that it is always there where you don’t expect it! 🙂

  15. They WERE pieces of art until they got “chained up” in a gallery and “validated” by the establishment! Surely the whole point of street art is that its OUTSIDE the galleries, scrawled across the cityscape, making a stand for the little man?

    As soon as I read this article I started thinking about Recuperation and the Situationist International:

    “Recuperation, in the sociological sense, is the process by which politically radical ideas and images are twisted, co-opted, absorbed, defused, incorporated, annexed and commodified within media culture and bourgeois society, and thus become interpreted through a neutralized, innocuous or more socially conventional perspective.[1][2][3] More broadly, it may refer to the cultural appropriation of any subversive works or ideas by mainstream culture. It is the opposite of détournement, in which images and other cultural artifacts are appropriated from mainstream sources and repurposed with radical intentions.

    The concept in political philosophy of recuperation was first proposed by members of the Situationist International. The term conveys a negative connotation (so that an individual who recuperates may also be described as “selling out”) because recuperation generally bears the intentional consequence (whether perceived or not) of fundamentally altering the meanings behind radical ideas due to their appropriation or being co-opted into the dominant discourse.”

    Great post mate. Lot of food for thought…

    And the Tintin image is pure class!

  16. Lovely collection! While defacing property isn’t awesome, this art is beautiful and fills some otherwise drab nooks and crannies with life. A few made me smile too and how can that be bad?? Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you, dweinberg415. And I really appreciate your reading it — and especially that you would take the time to comment! 🙂

    • Thanks for reblogging this, iampamharris68. If you care to share, I’ll be eager to hear your readers’ thoughts on this. Cheers!

  17. Street art, graffiti it is all one of my favorite art types. It’s so wild and free. I like how it captures thoughts in the mind and gives others a chance to see something cool.

    • I like the idea of freedom too, jessicaruth93 — especially when it comes to freedom of expression. It’s a privilege a lot of people still don’t have. Thank you for your comment!

  18. Art is one thing, but when someone takes private property and uses it without permission to create their so called art, it then becomes vandalism. When the person who made the decision to paint onto someones private property gets caught, and then gets their ass beaten and bloodied, at that point the artist becomes the art. That’s the kind of art that I can appreciate.

    • You would rather see a *person* vandalized than a wall, Mr. Roycroft? And you would consider the beaten and broken body of another human being art?! Although I don’t condone the defacement of anyone’s private property, I think there’s already enough brutality in the world. Sometimes, the best response isn’t violence … it’s a fresh coat of paint. Thanks for commenting, even if I respectfully disagree with your views.

      • Maybe if people would stop being so passive and handing out excuses for why people do bad things there might not be so much violence. Some of us work very hard to achieve and get a bit tired of having those things stolen or defaced. A fresh coat of paint just prepares the canvas for the next time that punk decides to trash my property. I choose to punish the bad guy not encourage him to repeat his criminal act.

  19. Street art – I love so many of the pictures. Banksy of course, but also the humorous street signs. Thank you for the wonderful collection!

    • And thank *you* for taking the time to read and comment, Spatz! It’s very nice to know that someone out there appreciates this stuff as much as I do. Cheers!

    • You’re very right about the inspiration factor, kunnalpawwar: It’s always inspirational to see what others are doing — especially when it’s out there for everyone to see. Thank you for your comment!

  20. Awesome blog, thats radicallytastically fantastic 🙂 i love street art, to me, street art is in a way contributing to the local community and can simply turn a dull, various shades of grey into an interesting and engaging street looking very illustrious.

    • Thanks so much for commenting, jonnydude123. I’d rather look at a beautiful mural than a gray wall any day, too. 😀

  21. A few years ago, we had a major street art exhibit come to Los Angeles. It was fantastic and even included a section made to look like a city street that you walk through. It was extremely creative and opened my eyes to the various types of street art. I know am more aware when walking around town! Thanks for sharing so many great pictures.

    • How creative, to make a “set” of city street for the exhibit visitors to walk through! But then, Los Angeles is no stranger to such sets, is it? 🙂 I’m very glad it created a new awareness — and appreciation of — street art, though. For better or worse, it’s part of our urban landscape … so we might as well appreciate it. Anyway, thanks so much for reading, and especially for taking the time to comment.

  22. Those do-not-enter signs are hilarious!
    And as for street art, I think those graffiti scribbled gang members paint are stupid, but some, like the ones you posted, are rather quite nice.

    • I agree with you, Lidiya! And in hindsight I wish I’d made more a distinction between “tagging” — the mindless scribbling of initials or gang insignia — and street art, which for the most part seeks to either make a statement of add something of beauty. And I’m glad you got a kick out of the “do not enter” signs. They certainly added a fun element to my strolls in Paris. 🙂 In any case, thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    • And many thanks to *you* for stopping by Una Mirada B! (¿Acaso, habla Usted Español? Si la respuesta es affirmativa — y si quiere practicar un poco su escritura — por favor mándeme una notita. ¡Temo que estoy perdiendo mi lengua materna por falta de usarla! Muchos saludos …)

        • Gracias por contestarme mi notita. Acabo de visitar su blog. ¡Qué bonito escribe y dibuja Usted! Me he abonado a su blog para no perderme ninguna de sus entradas (y además para practicar un poco mi español … holandés … los que sea). 😀 ¡Un abrazo desde Minnesota!

          • Fantástico, me hace mucha ilusión! Entonces nos ‘seguimos siguiendo’. Chaoito y un buen día. Gracias por mirar lo que ‘intento’. 😉

    • Thank you! And thank you for framing the question from the perspective of artistic talent and technique: When seen from that vantage point, you have to at least admire the artists’ imagination and skill.

  23. Great post!
    I agree with you that this is art – controversial as it might seem for some. I brought up this subject this week on my blog after driving through town and being confronted with a graffiti building at the traffic light. Here’s my link in case you want to see the image: http://wp.me/p3galV-mJ

  24. I don’t like it. There is a lot of really hostile crap out there. I understand the urge to do it. and some of it is cool. There has been graffiti for thousands of years.

    http://www.pompeiana.org/resources/ancient/graffiti%20from%20pompeii.htm

    But I live in a bad part of town and having people with spray cans scribbling every where is not as “cool” as it seems. If you are nieve and live in a nice part of town you can still find it charming. Until someone paints a vagina on your garage door.

    • You’re so right, ADMIN_1992: People have been painting on walls since before the dawn of history, which is why some anthropologists think it may be one of the innate traits that distinguishes humans. I’m very sorry to read about your garage door. But rest assured that I’m not living in some fancy suburb — my garage door has not only been spray-painted, but also STABBED! (https://hmunro.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/safety-a-matter-of-perspective/) As you point out, there’s a lot of hostile crap out there, and I find it as demoralizing and infuriating as the next person. But I try not to let that hostile crap blind me to the cool things that are out there, too. Anyway, I very much appreciate your perspective. Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and for your thoughtful comment.

    • So glad you appreciated the art, Do I Have My Keys. (Love your handle, by the way. Now I’ll probably be reminded of you, oh, about 20 times a day when I wonder, “Do I have my keys?” Grin.)

  25. Great blog post. It’s the venue and spontaneity that sometimes may jar with people when the artwork is splashed in an unexpected corner of the city.But as long as they don’t deface someone else’s property.

    • “As long as they don’t deface someone else’s property” seems to be an emerging theme,” Jean! Thank you for reading — and for your kind comment. Cheers!

    • How lucky that you got to spend time in Ecuador, Kevin! I saw a lot of street art when I was growing up in Mexico, too, and especially in Peru. As you so insightfully point out, it’s an important way to communicate political messages. Anyway, thanks so much for reading, and especially for taking the time to comment. ¡Hasta pronto!

  26. Fab examples. Street art is my favourite art, and London is chock full of it. Have you ever walked down Brick Lane? There’s art everywhere you look! walk from there to Liverpool Street station and in about 20 mins of time it took to get there, there’s unique are everywhere! Love it!

    • Yes, Harlequin Tea Set — I’ve been fortunate enough to see some wonderful street art in London! Though I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting Brick Lane. It’s officially added to my list for next time, however. Thank you for the suggestion, and thanks for reading!

  27. Thanks to your post I have the chance to admire this side of art that intrigues me, also because it is temporary, and sort of cryptic. Needs a sort of initiation to notice it in the streets, as you write, or to distinguish the art from the gibberish. Also interesting to see S.A. from the shadows into central galleries!

    • You’ve hit on one of the things that most intrigues me about street art, too, urbantraveltales: It’s temporary! I’ve been disappointed on occasion to see that a favorite piece has vanished, but as the brilliant George Harrison wrote, “All things must pass.” Thanks for commenting!

  28. This is freakin awesome!!!! Amazing post!!!! Art is alive and thriving out there. Street art is RAW, EXCITING, EDGY, and IMAGINATIVE. It’s everything they tell us not to be. A true artists expresses life in all forms through the eyes of his soul. Music is one of those arts but this is equally as awesome as music!

    • “It’s everything they tell us not to be.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, MusicisLife. Thank you for your kind, thoughtful comment. I admire your obvious passion for art, music, self-expression and LIFE!!

    • Oooh! Rome and Florence! How marvelous. Did you by chance see any Chet Abraham signs there that weren’t represented in my “collection,” notyourvictim? I’m very curious to know how many signs he’s “designed,” in all.

  29. What I think I like best about this art, is it’s sincerity; the so-called “Art World” of the dilettantes and collectors has become so corrupted and intellectualized, that atrocities like that crucifix in a jar of urine, and paintings made with elephant dung are passed off as “art”. There is no comparison to what I see in those “street” artists, which is what you find in any great art–the soul of the artist. I once saw a painting done by Hitler. Technically, it was well-done, but emotionally, it chilled me to the bone. There wasn’t a sign of life in it, not a person, a cat or even a beam of sunlight. It was cold as death.

    • You’ve described beautifully what I find most compelling about street art, truth60: Most of it is created just for the simple pleasure of making something — or because the artist feels compelled to say something that’s important to them. It’s usually honest and creative, and it makes me see the world in a new way. For me, that is the very essence of art. Anyway, thanks so much for your comment!

    • Couldn’t agree with you more, annpeace! That’s how I “discovered” Banksy, too. That film gave me a whole new appreciation for his intelligence and talent. Thanks for stopping by!

  30. This is fantastic, thank you so much for sharing. I agree with you, I also enjoy street art and have always been fascinated by it. Your selection was so varied and thrilling to look through, I want to save this and share this now.

    • Thank you so much, riseofdawn. But would you believe that I actually *culled* the photos for this post? Now you have me wondering whether I should do a follow-up post. Hmmm. In any case, thank you so much for reading, and especially for your very kind comment and reblog. Cheers!

    • A neurologist friend once told me that we all have “filters” in our minds that dictate what we do and don’t notice booknutcase. I’ll be eager to hear how your experience of Paris is different once your “street art” filter has been removed. 😀

  31. If the pictures you blogged were kind of what I found in the streets around me, yes, I would gladly consider them as arts but what I found here mostly just some foul writings with harsh-and-mean meaning.
    anyway, thank you for bringing good pictures here. I really want to see them with my own eyes.

    • Many others have shared your sentiment, anwar — and in fact, I’ve noticed the same in my own city. Like you, I used to have a pretty grim view of street art because most of what I saw was just plain destructive and stupid. But seeing this exhibit in Paris helped me appreciate that some of these people are actually artists. In any case, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment!

    • Thank you, Nicolai. The next time I go to Paris and they ask me the purpose of my visit, I will say, “I’m here for the hilarious street signs.” 😀

  32. I am a great fan of street art! I think that artists who do street art pieces have a different kind of freedom with the kinds of backdrops or landscapes they use. I love the street signs – ingenious and you’re right, street art kind of meshes itself in the background until you notice it and then you start seeing it everywhere. The best ones are sometimes they ones you find in places most unexpected 🙂 Great post – thanks for sharing!

    • I’m glad you’ve had the same experience, inidna, of “discovering” street art and suddenly seeing it everywhere. A neurologist friend once told me that we all have “filters” in our minds that dictate what we do and don’t notice. For my part, I’m glad my “street art” filter has been removed. 😀 Thank you for reading!

  33. Huge fan of street art! And love those ‘adapted’ signs. Would quite like them – in fact, all of them – as a post card set to use as ‘thank you’ cards.

    Refuse to believe that ‘thank you’ cards are passée.

    • What a brilliant idea, mrscarlielee! I wonder if the artist would give permission to use his work that way? Hmmmm. You’ve got my wheels turning! 🙂 And I agree with you wholeheartedly that ‘thank you’ cards are passée. Good manners and gratitude never go out of style. (To wit: Thank you so much for reading, and especially for taking the time to comment!)

  34. I love street art for many reasons. One of which is the artist burning need to create no matter the possible consequences if caught.

    • Great comment, K.Jacqleene! I also like the idea of being compelled to create something, no matter the cost. That’s what could truly be called the creative spirit, don’t you think? Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by!

  35. Hi, A very interesting article and a something that I have pondered everytime I see street art.
    I know art is all about interpretation and what one person views as art others view as graffiti.
    From a sociolgical point of view street art/graffiti can give people insights into social issues and politics. ‘Tagging’ is not street art. Putting stickers on walls and lamposts is not street art. It simply helps drive down property prices and make’s buildings, trains look undesirable.
    The road sign art/graffiti, even though funny, I would consider unacceptable because it distracts from the main purpose of the sign which is to give instructions to drivers etc.
    I guess I’m just a little old fashioned in the sense that street art should look beautiful, as in the Tin Tin one. It it looks like a delinquent has just spray painted a stencil on a wall then i don’t consider it art.
    I enjoyed your article very much 🙂

    • First things first, lawrenceofcanadia: I love, love, LOVE your online name! That is brilliant, on so many levels. 😀 Second, thanks for your wonderful comment. As you so aptly state, art is all about interpretation. But I’m glad that you look past your personal views on what may or may not constitute art, and that you consider the sociological aspect of it — because, in its best and purest form, street art really is a reflection of our time. In any case, thank you for your excellent and thought-provoking comment.

    • I think that bit of art near your neighborhood is very cool indeed, Mz. Zoomer! Looks like you took that photo last summer. Is the same work still there, I wonder? One of my favorite things about street art is that it’s usually temporary. I’d be curious to know if that’s the case with your mural as well. In any case, thank you very much for your kind comment. Cheers!

    • I’ll tell you what I think, Carol: Brilliant! That’s what I think. Your blog is a wonderful rabbits-hole of beautiful images and wonderful musings. I very much look forward to tagging along on your travels! In the meantime, thanks for stopping by — and especially for taking the time to comment. Cheers, and safe journeys!

  36. that’s a really cool post!
    from the cities i have been too and know quite well, ATHENS is a place filled with fantastic examples of street art. i actually only started looking at it as art after i got acquainted with the visual wealth on the walls of the greek capital.

    • Merci beaucoup pour le lien ! What a beautiful site — truly a feast for the eyes! Et j’adore la page titulée “QUOI DE 9 ?” Very clever! Thank you!

    • Thank you so much for the reblog, mswalsh! I’m glad to hear that someone else first “discovered” street art in Paris, too. It’s one of the reasons I love visiting that city — it always opens my eyes to something new.

  37. To me street art underscores one of the truths of art as an abstract concept. It’s something designed to evoke an emotion in the observer or recipient (in this case likely including ‘don’t you graffiti my wall’) – often abstract, yet often also intentionally directed. The impressionists put a lot of time into trying to evoke specific moods in those who looked at their paintings. It’s true of other art too; Debussy tried to get listeners to his music to think of specific colours. In my own field, it is certainlly true of writing. Paris, inevitably, seems to be one of the places where it all comes together and swirls around – as you’ve captured. A very cool post, cool photos – and thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you for your wonderful comment, Matthew. You’re so right — dare I say Wright? 🙂 — about the way things seem to come together in Paris and swirl around. That’s certainly been my experience, both as an observer and as a creative person. I especially loved your description of art as “something designed to evoke an emotion,” and the parallels you drew to the impressionists and Debussy’s music. I hadn’t thought of street art as a movement before, but now you have me wondering whether one day art students will be learning about “the street art period.” In any case, thank you so much for stopping by.

  38. Street Art is Art of course, I love street art, I wonder if the street artists who are perhaps painting our walls illegally work better under the pressure of maybe getting caught? Something I have often wondered!

  39. I really enjoyed reading this post and the photos you have featured are amazing! 🙂
    Ever since I was introduced to Banksy, I had a new found respect for street art .. .Although there is always the fine line between vandalism & art (as pointed out by alexanderschimpf).
    I recently went to Melbourne where there is a ‘lane’ dedicated to graffiti artists who can freely express their talent & both the locals and tourists admire their works – often see them in action! I’ll be blogging about this soon if you are keen on checking it out.

    • I love your observation about “the fine line between vandalism and art,” J xox. The ‘lane’ you saw in Melbourne is one solution that many cities (including London and Paris) are adopting, with often-stunning results. I very much look forward to your blog post and seeing what you captured! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Hey again, J xox … just tried to bookmark your blog so I could keep an eye out for your post, but I got a 404 error on disasterousyetdelightful.wordpress.com. Does you blog by chance have a new URL? Thanks again!

      • Yes … What makes it stunning is when it’s all contained in one ‘area.’ It’s like an explosion of creativity that’s been let loose!
        Oh no … Can you please tell me if my blog is still having issues? 😦

    • *Great* Flickr set, HipsterApproved! I think that first frame with the rat may be Banksy’s, but it’s hard to tell now that people are copying his well-known stencils. My favorite was the American Gothic homage, though. It’s a perfect example that even derivative art can be really cool and really imaginative. Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by, and for the cool link!

  40. Absolutely street art is art. I would vouch to say that it is the best kind of art. Usually it comes unexpected and when I finally notice it it holds my attention for quite some time. Street art requires and incredible amount of creativity and skill. If I had any artistic ability I would focus the majority of my time on street art. Street art can give a street and/or a community its identity.

    • You’ve brought up a very interesting point, jakeising! I hadn’t considered the fact that street art can give a street (or even a community) its identity. Very insightful … and good fodder for a follow-up post. Thank you, thank you!

    • How wonderful that you find street art so inspiring, Alisa! I suspect the artists would be very glad to know that their work touched you so much. Thank you very much for stopping by.

    • “Genius” is right, nicolasochart! His work is so varied and diverse, but at the core of it all you always find a tremendous imagination. I greatly admire him for that.

    • I’m glad you liked the compilation. And there’s a lot more where that came from, so stay tuned for deets on how to find the complete gallery! In the meantime, thank you for stopping by.

    • Great post, penpaperstorm! I loved “Exit Through the Gift Shop” because it was an insightful look into the world of street art — but also because of the fun twist at the end, with the hastily staged exhibit. In fact, it was that film that made me start to consider what constitutes art, and what is just commercial exploitation. Banksy may have made a name for himself, but I think he’s still very much an artist because he’s constantly pushing his own creativity. Mr. Brainwash? Ummmm … the verdict is out. Anyway, thank you for stopping by and for sharing your link. Cheers!

    • You’re so right that street art is a great source of inspiration, viciousblog. And I love the “moveable feast” aspect of it, too, because it’s always evolving and changing. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  41. Reblogged this on Overexcitable and commented:
    Is it, or isn’t it, related to giftedness? It certainly has a lot to do with thinking outside the box, experiencing the world intensely and being aware. Enjoy!

  42. Great discovery you have made- But I have a question for you….
    This gallery has ultimately taken the art out of it’s original context, and it is only THEN when you see it in gallery walls that you believe YES, it is art. Is it the visual imagery you see as art, or is it the fact that they are now on a higher notch of the “good art scale”, since its placed in a gallery, that you now attribute it to real art? Also the artists here are very well known, commercialized street artists. What about graffiti? What about tagging on street walls and under bridges… is that art? Think about the TRUE nature of “street art”, and I think you may have a few more questions to answer other than just simply “is it art”. This is just the tip of the iceberg!

    • What a great question you’ve raised, eclinning! Thank you for challenging me (and the rest of our fellow readers) to look beyond the images in my post and consider other types of street art as well. Actually, I’ve given your question a lot of thought over the past two years, as a handful of graffiti artists have become very active in my neighborhood. What’s been interesting is how similar their techniques are — they all use spray paint and draw simple lines — but how different my reaction is to various artists’ work. Some of it I dismiss as mindless tagging, but some of it I find beautiful or otherwise compelling. And what lies at the heart of it seems to be, “Does it invoke an emotional reaction?” One of the things I re-learned through this post is that everyone has a different threshold (or criteria) for what constitutes art. In hindsight, I guess the reason I liked the exhibit so much is precisely because it took the work out of its original context and exposed it to an audience that previously may not have noticed it, or perhaps not appreciated it. For my part, I’d still rather “discover” street art on the street — which is precisely why I included a few snapshots at the end of the post to show “real” street art in context. In any case, thanks again for your very thought-provoking questions. Cheers!

        • Absolutely, eclinning! Comments like yours are what make blogging worthwhile. It’s so much fun to hear others’ opinions and to discover new perspectives. Thanks again for asking such great, challenging questions — and especially for taking the time to comment. 😀

  43. In total agreement – of course it’s art. It’s peoples’ art of the zeitgeist.

    I recently saw a brilliant play called ‘A Thousand Years Of History’, about Warhol, Haring and Basquiat, by Harold Finley, in a suitably arty, urban warehouse in grimy Peckham in South London. They were Street Art’s precursors and are still its pin-up boys.

    Please check my multimedia autoBLOGography here: http://thomtopham.wordpress.com/about

    • So you’re a singer/songwriter, musician, producer, poet, photographer, painter, wannabe interior-designer and, of course, a writer? Don’t you think you should find some outside interests, Thom? 😀 Seriously, though … thanks for the link. And thanks for the info on “Thousand Years of History” as well! I don’t get to London too often these days, but perhaps I’ll manage to find it onstage on this side of the pond. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

  44. Thanks for an interesting article! I’ve never really had clear feelings on the issue, but I’m living in Sao Paulo right now, where it is everywhere. There is everything from straight-up graffiti, which some people here call art, to incredibly impressive portraits on buildings. There isn’t any advertising in the city, so street art of all kinds contributes pretty significantly to the feel.

    • And thank YOU for that marvelous link! What an incredible work — and what a fitting tribute to someone who has devoted his life to architecture. Thank you for your comment!

  45. fantastic pictures – I especially love the street signs. I adore street art and would love to live in a city that acted as one big canvas! Went to Barcelona recently and it felt just like that http://creativise.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/barcelona-through-street-art-eyes/ BUT I do find it bizarre when street art is taken out of the context in which is was made…. the banksy from Turnpike Lane, london is a very good example of this http://creativise.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/banksy-goes-awol/ . Great post!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Hannah — and for your wonderful links! Marvelous blog you’ve got yourself, there. 🙂 I’d heard about the Case of the Disappearing Banksy, but you’re the first person I’ve “met” who had first-hand knowledge, so it’s very interesting to read your perspective. I loved your question to the would-be buyer (“would you really want a piece of concrete anti-capitalism mocking your own opulence hanging in your multi-million pound lounge?”). Well spoken!

  46. Thanks for putting together this post! Regardless of where it is placed, street art is most definitely art as it does what all good art should do – it prompts discussion, debate and opinion. When artists spent so long in centuries past drawing inspiration from their surroundings to the canvas, it only makes sense that the transition be made that the cities become the canvas. Ill have to keep my eye out for any street art in my city now.

    • Well, Craig, this post certainly prompted lots of discussion! I’ve greatly enjoyed all the interesting, thought-provoking comments — like yours. Thank you for taking the time to write.

    • Well, Craig, this post certainly has sparked some discussion and debate! I’ve greatly enjoyed interacting with so many interesting people and hearing so many different points of view. So thank you very much for taking the time to comment — and have fun curating your own “collection” of street art!

  47. Love looking for Invader’s mosaic invaders! My cousin first brought it to my attention years ago in Paris. I’ve also found his stuff in other cities around Europe, so it was always a huge surprise when I stumbled across one.

    • That’s one of my favorite things about “discovering” a particular street artist’s work, Amelie88: Even the most boring, ordinary walk can become like a treasure hunt. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  48. Great post!
    I personally love street art, it makes a simple walk through the city so much more exciting. Some call it ‘vandalism’, but I think it’s culture.

    • You’re so right, that a bit of street art makes even a mundane stroll to the store more interesting. Glad you liked the post, and thanks for your kind comment!

    • Ah, just wait, Julie … I’m working on something pretty cool for you, if I say so myself! Thanks so much for stopping by, and especially for your very kind comment.

  49. I love this kind of stuff. There’s so much creativity and cleverness out there sometimes it actually gives me hope for our species.

    But to answer the question, “Is street art *art?*”

    I’d have to say it might not be, but as soon as it gets a good agent, it will be.

    • Haa ha, zheng3! And let me guess … are you someone who perhaps specializes in representing street art? 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

      • That’s not a bad idea… maybe I should consider a career change.

        The trick with street art is catching the artist in the act so that you can give them a business card.

  50. I too am a great fan of Street Art and have posted several times with ‘finds’ that I have discovered in London and Chamonix. Is Street Art, Art? Most definitely, highly skilled, and sadly so often does not get the recognition that it is due. An excellent post with some fascinating work. I came across this by chance browsing Freshly Pressed – something I don’t often do.

    • You have some pretty great street art on your blog as well, LensScaper — and some great street photography, too! Thanks for stopping by, and especially for your kind words.

    • I’m glad you appreciated the art, gnovember. As you say, it’s beautiful — and if it’s indeed a reflection of our society, that gives me hope. Thank you for stopping by!

  51. I really enjoyed your pictures. Thank you!

    It’s one thing to see clever or thought-provoking masterpieces in the “confines” of a gallery, but to see them in the streets somehow restores my faith in humanity.

    Really nice. Thanks again. 🙂

    • Thank you very much for your kind comment, safetyharborwoman, and for your thoughtful perspective. I very much hope that you will see loads and loads of street art so that you will never lose your faith in humanity. Thanks for stopping by!

    • So glad you appreciated the works I highlighted, krithikamanohar — and I’m especially glad to know that street art helps you experience familiar places in new ways. Thanks for stopping by!

  52. I couldn’t agree with you more!! There is so much skill and talent in street art that gets written off as vandalism. Most days I see things like this and it puts me in such a good mood even though I know a lot of people don’t appreciate how much thought can be put into these pieces. Thank you so much for sharing the pictures – they’re excellent ^^

    • Thanks very much for your kind words, Elise. I’m very glad you appreciate the artists’ talent and skill — and especially that their work puts you in a good mood. (It has the same effect on me!) Thanks for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to comment.

  53. I think street art is amazing. Growing up in Philadelphia, I got to see a lot of graffiti, mostly negative stuff but I always loved the basic idea of street art.

    • I’m glad you were able to look past the graffiti and negative stuff, and see the *potential* of street art, Brian. That takes true vision! Thank you for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to comment.

    • So glad you liked the collection, Imaginarium of Pau! It’s wonderful to see one or two pieces that catch your eye … but in aggregate they make quite an impression, don’t they? Thanks so much for visiting!

  54. Street art is amazing, colourful, and so expressive. And the fact that it is illegal makes street arts more fun to see because passion and rebellion drives the artists to draw. It baffles me how anyone could possibly hate it.

    • I think some people hate street art *precisely* because it represents an act of defiance, Red! In fact, I’ve been wondering if street art will become more accepted — and thus, less cool — now that more cities are officially embracing it. Anyway, thank you for stopping by, and for your thoughtful comment.

  55. I didn’t read through ALL of the comments, but in case no one mentioned him; my all time favorite street artist goes by the name HOPARE. Check out his work sometime, it’s very cool.

    • Ohmygosh, princessrexxy … THANK YOU for your introduction to HOPARE’s art. I’d never heard of him before — and I’m absoutely *stunned* by his work. And thanks to you, I also discovered this fantastic website: http://www.streetartnews.net/2014/02/hopare-new-mural-paris-18th-france.html
      I’ll make a point of looking for this mural next time I’m in Paris. With any luck it’ll still be there and I’ll be able to report back with some photos for you.
      Thanks again!

      • Yes! He also has a Facebook account if you’re interested in following him.

        A picture would be so awesome! I tried to find some of his work via google maps, but I didn’t have much luck.

        • I’m happy to say I’m now among his followers on Facebook. And I’ll do my best to get a photo or two, too! I won’t be back in Europe til next fall, so it’s anyone’s guess whether any of his current “canvases” will still be up — but with any luck I’ll catch at least one of his new ones. Thanks again for broadening my horizons! And cheers from Minnesota. 🙂

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