The 13th District of Paris: The open-air Street Art Museum9 November 2020
The priority of the Boulevard Paris 13 project was to make it live with the local residents, with the constant aim of integrating it into their daily lives in the best possible ways. For this reason, some of the frescoes are not lightning by night, while others have light from solar energy installed on the roofs of the buildings.
Of course, we are far from illegal art; but I have 2 advices to give you; you can lose yourself on the small street crossing the Boulevard Vincent Auriol; and you will discover plenty of illegal Street Artists.
As usual, I decide to select 10 artists; because I am sure that one day your steps will also lead you to this magical place… And the icing on the cake, i have found a colorful little street for you to finish this new Street Art discovery in style!
Tribute to France by Shepard Fairey alias Obeygiant
I am not sure whether to present Shepard Fairey, an internationaly recognized American artist, is of great use… As a reminder, he is the artist who created the “HOPE” poster for the Obama campaign in 2008. And it is not by chance that I decided to start this walk in the heart of this Parisian open-air Street Art museum with this emblematic poster that he had produced in reaction to the attacks of November 13 in Paris. If the news had been different; I will certainly have presented another of his works that can be found in this area. But there I was struck because with this work he wanted to pay tribute ti the unity that the French had shown after this abominable attack…A few years later, this face of Marianne from another work by Shepard Fairey “Make Art Not War” bring us back to a sad reality! So even under lockdown, let’s stay united!
The neighborhood cat by Christian Guémy alias C215
As I have already devoted two articles to this incredible French stencil artist, I think that if you follow the blog, you will start to know his work… Otherwise you can surf a little later to discover his galleries of historical portraits! I could have chosen to illustrate this articles other more striking works by the artist that can be found in the neighborhood… but no, because every time I see this cat my mind cannot stop thinking of some work by Tennessee Williams. For others it has become the meeting place of the district.. Instead of meeting at the Subway station, we meet at the blue cat. in fact we have the strange feeling that this cat has always been here, he is now an integral part of the identity of the neighborhood.
Le Chat du quartier par Christian Guémy alias C215 – Photo @Altinnov
The Child looking beyond the Vortex by Seth
Seth is a French artist whose style is recognizable at first glance. The sensitivity of his work never leave us indifferent and he provokes, with disconcerting ease, our imagination and our childish soul with each of his works. This traveler’s artist has undoubtedly produced in this open-air Street Art museum the work that has been widely contribute to its reputation around the world.
This work is simply hyptnotic! It breaks the lines of the angular architecture of the street, creates a magical atmosphère and take us too beyond the Vortex. Quite frankly, Boulevard Paris 13 would not have the same flavor without it.
With INVOLVENTE Add Fuel and his azulejos wink at the Portuguese community.
If you ever seen somewhere in the world, a painted wall covered with azulejos patterns, those precious earthenware tiles; you can be sure Portuguese artist Add Fuel has been there! He revisits the geometric decorative elements of thos tiles and arranges them like a poster artist fed on pop art. he plays with symmetrical repetitions, the accumulation of layers and visual illusion techniques specific to trompe-l’oeil, to create a harmonious balance. He has made several facades in the neighborhood, the one I have chosen to show you is the most dizzying. this work is for him a strong link with the large Portuguese community present in Paris. As I felt a “je ne sais quoi” of Lisbon as I walked past, I am sure that this work will not go unnoticed by this community.
The blue and glamorous pin up by D*Face
D*Face is without a doubt the most pop art English artist of his generation, his female modele inspired by Hollywood glamor or even comics are always ultra-feminine. This work is unique! It was originally a canvas that also served as the cover for his las monograph. I don’t know if his essays of blue are really, as he himself cited, his blue period – a reference to Picasso – or just an attempt to smooth out a palette usually more multi-colored.
I especially chose to show you this work because it knew a notorious detractor; the architect Gilles Béguin who has built 9 of these huge buildings in the 70s. This architect who felt “attacked by Street Art” carried out a standoff in court and won his case in May 2019 so there will be no more fresco on its buildings. This block of buildings built in place of the former Beghin Say sugar factory has white gabled walls in the format of sugars. Sacrilege for this architect to paint on his pieces of sugar so precious to his ego… Still, the development of this open-air Street Art museum is not a long quiet river.
The incredible urban jungle by DALeast
Unfortunately my photo does not pay tribute to the striking technique of this Chinese artist now based in Cape Town… Lack of perspective, gray sky,… nevertheless, we can still feel the strength and movement of these animals. He is one of those Street Artists who build a fabulous bestiary on the alls of our cities. His 3D technique is impressive. by dint of scrutinizing the image one has the feeling that those animals are metal sculptures that stand out from existing background. I was fortunate enough to see him work at SoHo – NYC and my surprise was immense when I realized that all of his work was done with aerosol!
Mighty Work: Embrace and Struggle by Conor Harrington
The more I discover the work of this English artist, the more I am struck by the force that emerges from it. he was inspired by classical painting and more particularly by the masters of expressionism and brought his baroque touch to it, with a notorious predominance for men in war costumes from another era. Connor Harrington likes to break the codes of machismo; what he tries to bring out in his work is a “false sense of power”. He likes “contrasts, oppositions, the raw, the refined”. this masterful work gives this open-air Street Art museum a whole new dimension. I urge you to visit his Instagram; you will discover striking works there!
A secular representation of the Madre by INTI Castro
With his Madre Secular 2, INTI, Chilean artist takes us to his original lands. you can feel in his work the strong reference to South America and his signature with his favorite colors: yellow and purple. Yellow for light, golden its name INTI means “sun” in Quechua language. And purple in reference to the sacred and the color worn by the Catholic clergy. If you dwell on the details you will see that in this work everything is delicacy; not to mention the feeling of softness released by the delicate hands of his Madre; a peculiarity that can be found in many of this artist’s works.
During its realization, this Madre greatly shocked passers-by because of the veil, the Newton’s apple in her hand, the small skulls surrounding her neck,… today she is rather seen as a protector who watch over the neighborhood.
The weathered face by Alexandre Farto alias Vhils
The least we can say is that this Portuguese artist is unconventional on the technical side! His favorite tools are chisels, jackhammers, acid and sometimes even explosives… He does not add a coat of paint to an existing wall, but subtracts material with the tools of a construction worker. the paradox of his work, which appears powerful, is the gentleness of the expressions he manages to reveal with tools which are moreover rather coarse. By playing with the underlays he discovers under the support, his works gain depth. Something to be captivated with each new work…. As I know there are many people passionate about his work, I would like to point out to you that two other works by Vhils are visible in the 18th arrondissement of Paris;-)
The couple’s stenciled diptyck by Jana & Js
This is the first time that this French artist couple has made such a large wall! They needed more than 80 stencils of 2 meters X 2 to arrive at the end. As you will understand they are passionate about film photography, this work is a tribute to photographers and also a double self-portrait at the same time.
If I selected it, it is quite simply because it also reminds me of my Street Art walks and the way in which I am gradually trying to improve the photographs of the works that i show you on the blog;-)
Dozen of works to discover outside this open-air Street Art museum
The advantage with the 13th arrondissement of Paris is that it is teeming with works in every corner! I am not going to tell you about the micro-district of the “Butte aux cailles”; because it deserves an article all by itself; but just all these works that line the route and will delight you between two giant wall… If you ever go there, do not hesitate to take the streets perpendicular to Boulevard Vincent Auriol or even Avenue de Choisy; you will discover nuggets made by artists such as Christian Guémy, Pimax, Invader, Cranio Artes, Doudou Style, Meton Joffily, Le long… or even the work of the artist Ethos which is gradually disappearing under the graffiti.
Cherry on the cake for graffiti lovers
Rue Dieudonné Coste is a must in the artistic urban landscape of this arrondissement. lovers of graffiti, beautiful blaze and elaborate calligraphy will be able to give it their all. There is a monumental tribute to the character Cheech Wizard created by Vaughn Bodé, great guru of the underground comics who died in 1975. And the blazes of the great Parisian graffiti; such as TAKT, HOBZ, ZEKI, SPEK, BROK, FYRZÉ,… And even if you’re not a big fan of graffiti; this street definitively worth the detour!
A very beautiful box, freshly released, immortalizes this open-air Street Art museum
As I decided to open a small complementary section on the blog with Book’s reviews dedicated to Street Art; I will not hide from you that I have already ordered my copy of “Boulevard Paris 13” which is in French & English! At first glance, the photos are magnificient and of course the technical means to take them are far superior to mine! As Christmas approaches, it seems to me to be a very nice gift to offer if you know some Street Art Lovers. if you don’t want to wait my review, I inform you that it is already on sale on Amazon for those in a hurry!
How do you get to Boulevard Paris 13?
Nothing’s easier! Don’t take a Street Art Toru to visit this open-air museum! All you have to do is exit at the “Nationale” subway station on line 6. before exiting the subway; I still advise you to stay on the quay because the view you will have on some works is just crazy. Perhaps one of the best vantage points for taking great photos! Then you can easily guide yourself with the map set up for free on the Boulevard Paris 13 website. A little additional advice: wear good walking shoes!
I hope you enjoyed this new walk and that it changed your mind for a few minutes! If you love monumental works, I advise you to take a tour of the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn or even downtown Manhattan! And of course the French one in Boulogne-sur-mer; where in recent years another open-air Street Art museum has emerged… And it is exceptional!
For my part, despite the French lockdown, I am going to concoct some walking articles that I have not yet had time to write and some books reviews for the most fanatical of you!
See you soon for new Street Art adventures