Street Art World Tour
I love hunting street art. When travelling in a new city or town one of my favourite activities is to seek out the examples of local talent. This is a free activity that takes me off the beaten tourist trail to visit areas of the city I would not normally have planned to visit. In reality, most of these places are not that far from city centres or transport hubs and can be reached very easily. Very few of these places are unpleasant or dangerous.
Street art is not tagging.
Tagging is defined by the urban dictionary as; a personal signature...which may consist of block or bubble lettering.
This type of art has existed for thousands of years and epitomises the human response to existential uncertainty. It is in essence a statement to future generations and the universe in general saying: I existed, I was here.
“I was here” 35,000 years ago - oldest known cave art, Indonesia.
“I was here” 2017 - tag on underpass, Tubigen, Germany.
We are all familiar with modern tagging, either as giant multi-coloured ‘bombs’ on subway tunnels or train carriages;
Typical 'bomb' tag - Munich. Germany
Or the classic, so and so loves so and so
Seno is someone’s Bae (before all else), Munich, 2017
Tagging is NOT street art
In contrast, street art is more than a scream of existential angst, it has a purpose and a message. Street art is big and bold, sometimes covering entire buildings, not scribbled on a toilet wall. Street art is cool, is free and can be found in any place humans have existed since whenever.
Conditions must be perfect
Certain conditions are required for the production of high quality street art.
The first is the existence of a group of talented local artists. These people could be world famous artists, but most often they are just a bunch of teenagers with spray cans in need of some inspiration.
The second condition is a cityscape that offers a good canvas. Wide, tall walls constructed of uniform material are ideal. These spaces need to be free of facades and available for beautification. They can vary from underpass columns to construction sites, to entire faces of apartment blocks
All conditions (including cranes) would have been required to create this piece of art.
The third condition is that the art be in a public place, where it can be easily accessed and viewed, by anyone, for free. One of the best things about street art is that, by its very design, it is free-to-view, being placed in a public area, sometimes in the early hours of the morning, with no agenda and without charge. The same cannot be said for the endless parade of unwanted product placement and advertising displayed on almost every surface of a city, or 'famous' art works locked in a museum that charges you access.
What follows is my collection of images from around the world. These are not necessarily the best from each place I visited, just the best I saw.
Ganesh (hindu elephant god) blessing an SUV
Some art travels with you
How the leopard got his spots
Deaths head storm trooper stencil
RIP Bob Marley
Winter is coming- advertising for ice bar
Sculpture memorial of the The Blitz, WWII.
William Shakespare at the rebuilt Globe Theatre
Perfect conditions combined with 22 hours of sunlight a day in the summer plus some boredom.
Where the local council is making a dedicated effort to collaborate with local artists to give the town some colour.
Birds of suburban beautification
Local art projected at night
Half pipe decoration
Apartment block beautification
Underpass panorama and close ups
LGBT plea for peace on the side of a church in a small town south of Dusseldorf.
The best street art makes an ironic statement, a political or social critique that sparks the imagination and makes you question the cultural and social structures we take for granted and shape our everyday lives. Banksy is a great example of this form of street art.
Dali lama gagged with a Chinese flag
Mother Mary, Die Hall of Fame underpass
Architecture and art combined
A entire painted building
Prague, Czech Republic
In the 1970’s-90’s street art was synonymous with political activism and the desire for social change under the communist regime.
Lennon wall - commerating the death of John Lennon. The wall was repainted white one night in the 90’s by local artists to provide space for the next generation’s ideas. They haven’t disappointed
Some of the best street art in Berlin is on some remaining section of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery.
An angel carries someone over the wall
Another brick in the wall - ironic images from Pink Floyds 'The Wall' album art
A soviet made Trabant crashes through the wall
Escaping over the wall
The blank back side of East Side Gallery - what the wall may have looked like from West Berlin before the street art
A preserved piece of grafitti on the western side of the wall.
Classic example of a grafitti 'bomb' defacing street art
The most famous mural, ‘God help me survive this deadly love’ is a reproduction of a photograph depicting an embrace between a Russian and German politician celebrating 30 years of communist totalitarian government
Slicing into the wall at the Berlin wall memorial
Message to East Berlin government
Even contemporary street art references the East/West split or the wall
West side- you can probably guess what side of the city this was in
Climbing the wall on garbage to escape
But there is also some great non-political art around also
Outside the Trabacalera gallery
Sundial on apartment block
Interesting juxtaposition of a child playing on a nuclear cooling tower with a quarry in the background
Where most street art is alpine themed
Vampire Daredevil - ski tunnel wall, Les Montents
To be continued…