14 Mar 2013

Street art can be beautiful and/or fun

This says : "Reciprocity is a mystery". I like that...

Actually this is on a window and not a wall, but I am sure that you get the idea. Most graffiti (sometimes pompously called "street art") that I see is ugly and garish and has been inflicted, undesired, on public places, just adding another layer of ugliness to areas which are already blighted, and sometimes acting as acne on otherwise quite acceptable faces of architecture. But there are occasional graffiti artists whose works I see on walls here in Paris that make me smile, or think, or laugh, or indeed several of these. The one above is on the window (in the window?) of the tourist office near where I live, and it is clearly signed by someone going under the intriguing pseudo of Miss-Tic.

The first "street art" of this type of which I have a clear memory were the finely-drawn posters of the french poet Rimbaud that I saw stuck on dilapidated walls in Paris's 14th arrondissement in the late 1970's (see below).

These were my first contact with the remarkable work of the French artist Ernest Pignon Ernest, about whom I have written on this blog here.

With perhaps more humour, but a lesser sense of history, more recent street artists have done some fun things on the walls of the Butte aux Cailles district in Paris' 13th arrondissement. It should be remembered that this district is still a bastion of artists' studios and was a hotspot for rebellion during the Paris Commune movement in the 1870's, as well as during the "events" of May 1968, almost 100 years later.

Spontaneous and involuntary forms of sculpture are also a feature of what can loosely (and sometimes pompously!) be called street "art". The two photographs below are taken on the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge across the Seine that links the Louvre to the Ecole de Beaux Arts. There is another bridge similarly decorated with lovers' padlocks a bit further upstream. I find this far more interesting than most so-called "installations" that one sees in galleries. The locks shine like gold in the sun and are densely packed on either side of the bridge. This has an interesting optical/kinetic effect as one walks across the bridge. Of course the scale and the site help a bit!

On a recent visit to the Slovenian capital of Lubljana, I saw the beginnings of a similar installation on a bridge there, so perhaps there will be, at some point, an international circuit to be followed of lovers' bridges. Better than that damned da Vinci Code circuit that seems mercifully to have died out. Love is eternal after all...

And if you go to this article, you will discover another good piece of graffiti that I spotted in Lubljana (one picture of it is below).