Street art refers to any artistic form in an urban context. It is a vague notion bringing together varied arts, graphic art on the walls, or street performances. To paint a portrait of the street arts would be a challenge, as they are numerous and diverse, discover below the history and the big names linked to this art.

What is street art?

Street Art is a modern art movement that brings together all forms of art produced in the street or in public places. It is an instant, fast, forbidden art, the purpose of which is to convey a message without authorization.

. Street Art can take many forms:

. Graffiti, with or without stencils

. Stickers (stickers)

. Drawing, painting

. Mosaic

. Installation or sculpture

. Intervention on street furniture (bus shelters, panels, bins)

. Optical illusions on the floor and on the facades (trompe-l'oeil)

. Sound art (installations playing with listening postures, "field recording," sculptures and

instruments, performances).

Street Art can be discreet and occupy very small spaces (drawings, stickers) or be monumental and very visible, like, for example, inflatable structures. It is mainly an art intended for the general public, ephemeral and in constant renewal. This art form reaches out to people without necessarily wanting it. It makes it possible to reach people who would not enter a museum or an art gallery.

Street artists take over the urban space to challenge, shake up, disturb, claim, denounce, question, support ... They have artistic motivations (make their art known) but often political or social (to convey a message).

Although Street Art is not always legal, its artistic value is unquestionable. Street Art artists do not seek to vandalize public spaces but rather to change our outlook on the city and on art.


Street art Beginning in the 70s with the first graffiti made in the New York subway, an expression of the rebellion of the black people, these tags quickly evolved into drawings presenting ever more original typographies. Around 1980, a law in New York sanctioned this means of expression. The art of graffiti then emigrated to other American cities and crossed the Atlantic to Europe. At that time in Europe, street art, while being illegal is considered a humorous, colorful, and crazy art. New techniques appear like the stencil, the street show.

Street entertainment began in Antiquity with mimes and farces. In the Middle Ages, the street became a meeting place where troubadours expressed freedom and creativity. From the 17th century, satire, pamphlet, and song appeared as means of expression against the king. The revolution was born and grew in this way. Abandoned by the public, street shows reappeared after May 1968 to protest against society. Currently, street artists come together in association and company and mingle with the urban landscape, always drawing inspiration from ancestral traditions.

Big names of street art

The first movement is "Graffiti writing," which originated in Philadelphia under the impetus of two artists, Cornbread and Cool Earl. It's the first and foremost story of an extremely shy boy who dares not admit that he is in love with a classmate and who writes all over his neighborhood "Cornbread Loves Cynthia." If the story is touching, it is above all the beginning of an art form which gained momentum ten years later in New York and would overturn all codes.

This is the birth of the big names in American street art: Taki 183, Keith Haring, and even Blade One. In the street, every small piece of land is covered with various messages visible to everyone.

In France, this new form of art also gained momentum from the 1980s. Two pioneers imposed the urban arts as we know them: Blek le rat and Jérôme Mesnager.

The movement then spread around the world in an organic way.

In 1982, the American Bando arrived in Paris. He disseminated in the country "the art of New York subways" in 1987 another American, Jonone, energized French urban art.

The 1990s saw the arrival of artists like Bansky in Great Britain and Blu in Italy. Among the French, artists like Invaders are essential, in the streets of Paris and then in the streets of other capitals of the world.

The 2000s marked a real turning point for street art; it was finally recognized as an art in its own right. The M.U.R (Modular, Urban and Reactive) is created. It is an association of 80 artists every two weeks; an artist squats large billboards in rue Oberkampf in Paris, where he exhibits his work. In 2001, the first works of street artists were exhibited in the day gallery of Agnès B during a group exhibition.

2009 is the year of consecration for this ephemeral art in France; in March, an exhibition at the Grand Palais brings together 150 international taggers. A few months later, in July, the Fondation Cartier organized a group exhibition "Born in the Street," urban art was recognized as an artistic movement, with collectors flocking.

The most famous street art works in the world

1. Jef Aerosol, Chuuuttt !!!

The French Jef Aerosol produced this huge 350 m² stencil in 2011. It is located in Paris, near the Pompidou Center, opposite the Tinguely fountain. This self-portrait work is a call to calm, to silence, a proposal for a break in the heart of urban noise, and respect for artistic creation in connection with the Center Pompidou.

2. Thoma Vuille, M. Chat

Since the end of the 90s, yellow cats with broad smiles have flourished on the walls all over France. We owe this character, M.Chat, to Thoma Vuille, a Franco-Swiss urban artist who suffered many setbacks with the law because of his works. In 2004, the yellow cat was even invited in a huge format on the forecourt of the Center Pompidou!

3. Banksy, The Little Balloon Girl

The Englishman Banksy has been probably the most famous street artist in the world since the early 2000s. In 2002, he made the stencil La Petite Fille au ballon on Waterloo Bridge in South Bank. A child in her black dress lets a heart-shaped balloon fly. "There is always hope," he wrote. In fact, the screen-printed version was the subject of one of the biggest buzzes of 2018! Banksy's works are often humorous, anti-militarist, and anti-system. By his simple identity, the street artist remains a deep mystery ...

4. JR, Inside Out Project

French street artist JR adorns walls around the world with his huge black and white portraits of anonymous. Initiated in 2011, his project Inside Out was born thanks to the American TED prize that the artist received for "changing the world."

5. iHeart, Nobody likes me

Symbol of a hyper-connected society, the work of Canadian artist iHeart takes us back to the quest for a very current e-reputation. Or how a crying child, smartphone in hand, demonstrates the crucial wait before the Internet praises him for his many feats.

6. Keith Haring, We the youth

Activist artist Keith Haring (who died far too early in 1990) has made his mark on the world of Pop Art and Street Art. He is indeed one of the first artists to create murals. Recognizable among a thousand thanks to his unique style, he produced "We the youth" in 1987 in Philadelphia. Today, this is the only mural by Keith Harring to remain intact at its original site.