I had the pleasure one Sunday morning a couple weeks ago of taking a tour of Paris street art, led by Demian of Street Art Paris. The tour lasted around three hours, during which we wandered through parts of the 11th arrondissement, ending up over in the 20th, in Belleville. This section of the city has one of the highest concentrations of street art in Paris. But street art can be found all over the city, if you are paying attention.
After a brief introduction we began the tour, cameras in hand. We saw a variety of different artists and learned a little bit about their styles. Here are just a few of the artists who have left their mark on the walls and rooftops of Paris.
Space Invader’s invasion of Paris began in 1998 and now his work can be seen all over the city and the world. His images are based on the graphics of the 1978 video game Space Invader. Before “invading” an area, he creates panels of mosaic tiles, which represent the pixels of the low-resolution graphics in the game, in the forms of different characters. Then he pastes these images on buildings and carefully documents their locations. Supposedly no two of his pieces are the same.
Since his start in the 1980s, Némo has remained a central figure among the Parisian pochoiristes (stencil artists; a pochoir is a stencil). His whimsical drawings generally feature the silhouette of a man in a hat and coat, a red umbrella and animals. Némo tends to choose crumbling stone walls or damaged façades of buildings in lower class areas to brighten with his work.
More elusive than even Bansky, very little is known about this artist. Yet, his work appears all over Paris. Despite the name which conjures visions of an artist collective, most agree that the work signed Zoo Project is actually one man of Franco-Algerian origin. He mainly creates large black and white images of people with bizarre attributes. His work is normally signed and includes a short phrase which serves as the title.
Ludo is best known for his series of work called “Nature’s Revenge”. Using wheatpaste and paper, his preferred medium, he creates larges works integrating nature and mechanical elements. He prepares his work ahead of time in his studio before pasting them up on walls. In earlier stages of his work, he would put his work over billboards, often in broad daylight while dressed as a city worker. The works are ephemeral, slowly being destroyed by the elements and showing the superiority of nature over the art.
M. CHAT is the name of the bright orange, smiling cat that appears across Paris, the work of artist Thomas Vuille. The cat usually appears running or flying and is normally painted on walls in extremely inaccessible location. Though the project started in 1997, the cats began appearing more frequently in Paris after 9/11 and are seen by many as a reaction the that tragic event. Whether you see it as that or not, it’s hard not to smile when you see this grinning cat.
Now that you’ve learned about some of these artists, check out the places you can go to see their (and others’) work:
–Le M.U.R: The organization behind this project brings in a new street artist every two weeks to create something new on a wall located in the 11th on rue Oberkampf.
–Paris Street Art: This site features a map of some of the major street art locations in Paris as well as galleries of images sorted by artist.
–Le Cabinet d’Amateur: A gallery that exhibits and sells work by street artists.
-Rue Denoyez: Located in the 20th, in Belleville, this street has perhaps the highest concentration of street art and graffiti in Paris.
–Street Art Paris: Offered every Saturday morning, this informative and entertaining English-speaking tour takes you through the 11th and 20th arrondissements, showing you some of the best street art in the city.