Blog post: written by Mckenna
Paris is known to be a major art center, holding enormously famous art museums, such as Le Louvre and Le Centre Pompidou.
However, what most foreigners don’t know is that this city also holds a vibrant and captivating street art scene that adds an extra layer of charm and personality to its already mesmerizing streets. The artistry found around every corner brings joy, social commentary, and a touch of whimsy to the city.
Street art has long served as a powerful tool for social commentary, and Paris’s vibrant street art scene is no exception. You’ll encounter thought-provoking murals and stencils that tackle a range of pressing issues, from environmental concerns to political activism. These artistic expressions encourage dialogue, challenge the status quo, and highlight the passion and creativity of the artists who strive to make a difference through their work.
Graffiti : art or vandalism ?
Street art, artistic vandalism, and graffiti happens to often be my favorite art form. The nature of it is full of expression and a sense of needing to be heard or seen. From the second I stepped off the plane at Charles de Gaulle, I was reminded of how street art filled Paris. I looked out the window of the car, on the ride to my apartment, and was able to distinguish how street art had a much different relationship with this city, compared to many other cities I’ve visited. Street art, in many places has a negative connotation– often identifying areas of danger or where other illegal activities might take place. However, I noticed that the graffiti and murals vastly covered the city. Not just in older, abandoned buildings, and not simply vandalistic tags and profanity, but instead also on largely distinguished, beautiful buildings, and incredibly thought-out murals. Although many art enthusiasts might disagree, I would even like to go as far as saying that a lot of Paris’ streets are even better, or more purposeful, than some of the art found in the famous museums. Whether I’m in the metro or walking in Le Marais, I always make sure to be on the lookout for street art.
An aspect that distinguishes street art from other forms of artistic expression is its transient nature.
While some pieces might stand the test of time, others gradually decay or are overwritten by new works. Witnessing the evolution and transformation of street art can be an exciting and bittersweet experience, which is so exciting! Each new layer adds to the city’s ever-changing artistic tapestry, reminding us of the impermanence of art and the importance of cherishing the present. I’m always especially impressed when seeing how many artists decide to add to another’s work- this allows for a combination of art to come together and establish something that’s never been seen before.
When you find yourself in this wonderous city, I greatly recommend you’d walk along the Saint-Martin canal, or throughout Le Marais or Oberkampf. Grab an éclair or a meal at a local bistro and prepare to see spectacular murals and art pieces that fill the streets with emotion and color!
Paris’s street art scene is a vibrant and ever-evolving testament to the city’s creativity and cultural richness. As you explore the city, take the time to observe these artistic treasures, engage with their stories, and embrace the unexpected encounters that make Paris’s street art truly special. I encourage you to look out your window and take strolls, remembering to appreciate the art that surrounds you!