There’s nothing new about street art. In fact, it’s centuries-old, but it’s a damn good way to gain insight into a city’s subversive culture. Because while graffiti is many things to many cultures, it’s ultimately a reactionary art form; a classless and public museum for the people. From Berlin’s political dalliances, to Mexico’s westernisation of indigenous imagery, here are 10 amazing cities for street art around the globe.[listicle]
The city of angels is seldom known for its grit these days, but rather its green juices, wellness centres and yoga retreats. But, the belly of this beast is still rooted in an incredible art scene that, at times in history, his rivalled New York’s. Notable locals include WRDSMTH, who wheatpastes nuggets of wisdom on stencilled typewriters across the city, and David Flores who has been commissioned for countless LA institutions including restaurants and galleries. Check out this great website that documents L.A.’s vibrant street art scene.
Germany’s capital has long been famous for its booming art scene and creative culture – no wonder Bowie and Nick Cave both settled in there for a while – but did you know it’s also home to the largest stencil in the world? Overlooking the trendy-as-hell residents of Kreuzberg is a 22m x 14m metre mural which was painted in 2007 by Victor Ash. The astronaut is a bit of a landmark in the city, and actually a great way to gather your bearings. The city’s street art scene got its start in 1961 when the Berlin Wall went up to separate east and west – hello instant canvas! Since then, street art has been as political as it has been creative, and despite the fact that the wall has been down for over 25 years, the scene lives on. Here’s an interactive street art map of Berlin.
The curvy streets of São Paulo are rich with both artistic splatters and teenage tags. Strolling around, you’re likely to see works by renowned artists collaged around no-name works. Identical twins Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, who go under the name Os Gemeos (Portugese for twins), have been big into the scene since it started booming in the ’80s after being influenced by the classical Brazilian art scene and Unites States street art scenes. Check out Os Gemeos’ 3D works – they’re incredible.
A giant Banksy Exhibition is hitting Melbourne soon, and it’s a perfect match in this city that loves its graffiti. After all, what better way to adorn these beautiful cafe-laden sidestreets than with some colourful street art worthy of an Instagram post? With some super talented local artists like Ha-Ha , Kaff-eine, and countless more, you never have to go to far to get some true blue Aussie cultcha. There’s even a street art walking tour you can sign up for.
Image: Geoff Wilson/Flickr
There’s a reason so many European cities have such incredible underground communities; the revolt against prim histories makes for some great counter-cultural scenes, and Paris is no exception. Gaining momentum in a unique poster movement throughout the ’60s, today vandalism of public property is still highly illegal in France, yet paradoxically the street art scene is stronger than ever. Take this tour to find out more.
By hosting two public street art festivals a year, Buenos Aires sends a very clear message about its artistic priorities. Largely supported by the local community, graffiti has become a huge attraction for tourists from all over South America and the world. The movement began in Argentina as a form of political protest but also as a means of decorating old abandoned buildings. Artists such as JAZ and Martin Ron have blurred the lines between fine and street art in this beautiful city.
Bethlehem, West Bank
On the border of the West Bank in Israel is one of the most ever-changing pieces of art in the world. The wall is art in itself, in the same way the Berlin Wall served to mimic the division that exists in the world of those who walk past it, and those who contribute to its ever-changing colours and adornments. It’s as political as can be, and a must-see for visitors of this historical home.
Mexico’s history with public art is vast and rich, thanks in large part to its fondness for murals and its famed artists Diego Rivera and David Siquieros and their ability to crack the US market, making public art a viable art form throughout the mid-century. Today, street art is as most things are in Mexico: a colourful amalgamation of the old and new, the living and the dead, the serious and the tongue-in-cheek. Today artists like Nick Mestizo, Jenaro de Rosenzweig and Edgar Saner have successfully carried the torch.
A number of important government initiatives have given a boost to Lisbon’s public art scene in the past decade which has seen the works move from the suburban and derelict areas of Lisbon into the city centre – the bright colours juxtaposing the run-down, paint-peeled buildings of the historic city. Portugal’s rich history with the punk-rock ethos also colours the perspective of artists. Akacorleone, Daniel Eime and Kruella D’Enfer are leading the charge in Lisbon.
After the abolition of apartheid and the rise of hip hop culture in the early ’80s, graffiti scenes really began to take off in Cape Town. Today, even publicly funded walking tours are available. Faith47, and Nardstar* are the latest big-name artists to come out of South Africa’s capital with Falko One still remaining the most prominent due to the vitality of his elephant-focused art. [/listicle]