Left Bank street art tour

vhils wall paris street artVhils, the Portuguese street artist from Lisbon made this work along with a number of others in Paris. This is the last remaining work that survives.

Join Street Art Paris for a walking tour of the city’s 13th arrondissement on Paris’ Left Bank, which has in recent years become a renowned neighbourhood for a great number of large-scale artworks by both French and international graffiti-street artists.

The 13th is unlike other Parisian districts. Whereas the Parisian East, the cradle of the French revolutions (1789, 1830, 1848, 1870), and traditionally the richest territory for fans of the urban arts to explore, features classic Hausmannian architecture that has predominated in Paris since the 19th Century and is off-limits to being painted, the 13th arrondissement is mostly high-rise apartment blocks. Because of this lower architectural valeur historique, unlike in other Parisian neighbourhoods the local townhall has been commissioning artists to go ‘big’ on the sides of its buildings.

jef aerosol jace street art paris Jace’s character the Gouzou sits atop one of Jef Aerosol’s stencilled figures at Paris’ Buttes-aux-Cailles neighbourhood.

The works are largely thanks to support from the local mayor, contemporary art enthusiast Jérôme Coumet and his team and for the biggest of these works, a vote is put out to local residents who get to have their say on what gets painted.

shepard fairey obey street art paris Shepard Fairey mural: one of the dozens of large-scale murals painted by graffiti-street artists in the 13th arrondissement, on Paris’ Left Bank.

This favourable attitude to graffiti-street art has also left the door open for organised events such as La Tour Paris 13 in which over one hundred French and international street artists occupied a tower block marked for destruction – one of the largest ever ephemeral art exhibitions. And not long after this, the famous annual art event, Nuit Blanche, commissioned a number of new murals by world-renowned street artists for its overnight spectacle, and in 2018 an urban art auction highlighting the galleries in the area, organised by Hôtel Drouot, the leading auction place in France, marking the 13th as a veritable street art destination.

However, sanctioned street art like much of the work we look at on our tour of the 13th arrondissement, like any public art, is unflinchingly made to fit with the dominant political, social and cultural agenda, and ‘contemporary urban art’ (street art for sale!) has become a big business, so with big murals acting like giant billboards for artists to sell their work via commercial galleries, while helping to boost the popularity of local politicians (apart from when the murals aren’t to locals tastes!), on the tours we try to think critically in order to better understand this new and burgeoning global art movement.

invader street art paris 13th arrondissementInvader is a Parisian artist who makes pixel art that mimics the Space Invaders arcade game. The pieces can be found in more than a thousand locations across the city. He produces using generic ceramic tiles arranged in a mosaic style.

On any one of our walking tours, you can expect to see works by artists, including Shepard Fairey, D*Face, Faile, C215, Inti, Invader, Vhils, Jef Aerosol, Seth, Borondo, Miss Tic, and Speedy Graphito, and with new works appearing both by command and without permission, every tour is truly a unique experience.

About Street Art Paris

Street Art Paris is a network of artists, documentarians, producers, educators, which presents the Parisian and international graffiti-street art culture. In addition to its documentary and knowledge shared at its site and through its regular walking tours and art workshops, the organisation is developing an artists books project in collaboration with an expanding group of artists, and institutions. Continually updated details of the project are published at streetartparis.fr.