Accidental Paris Street Art and Graffiti Walking Tour

One of the things I love about Paris is that you can step out your door in the morning and walk pretty much anywhere without a particular plan and anywhere you go is going to be beautiful. Or charming. Or shop-tastic. Or old. Or really, really old.

So one morning, from my base near Square du Temple, I headed in the general direction of the narrow, meandering streets of Medieval and Renaissance-era Marais. Along the way my architecture walking tour turned into a graffiti and street art walking tour.

I really wanted to sign up for the Underground Paris graffiti walking tour (they also offer a stencil art workshop, kinda cool) but the timing just didn't work out. Paris street art has exploded since I was last there. Locals told me that the city has become much more relaxed about what was once considered trespassing and destruction of property and now see it as a legit art form.

This could be true or not true, but someone told me that if the police see someone spray-painting or pasting or otherwise hanging anything, they wait around a bit to see if it looks good, looking the other way if it is and putting a stop to it if it's not.

There is a thin blue line between art and vandalism, I guess.

I was going to do this whole thing with exact locations of each picture and information about every artist in the photos below but, ah--yeah, right. First of all, aside from the biggies, it's very hard to find information about these folks who, when you think about it, have good reason to stay anonymous. And second of all, as it is this post took me about a week to research and write. So there's some info below, but mostly pictures.

I started at the corner of Rue du Temple and Rue de Bretagne, then right on Rue de Turenne, wandered tiny side streets in that area till I came to the (closed) Picasso Museum on Rue de Thorigny. After that I'm not sure but there were some stores and I bought some things and a cafe where I ate some things. At one point I passed the National Archives and somehow ended up at the Centre Pompidou. Then I backtracked and, through pure blind luck, found Rue du Temple again and made my way back to the starting point at Square Du Temple.

Here's a map.

OK, this one I actually know a little about. This is "Characters" by Bonom, November 2009. He "came out" as Vincent Glowinski in this 2013 article--great interview.

This woman, by Sobre, was all over the place. It looks like straight up stencil spray paint and it is, except it is done on paper then stuck to the wall with wheat paste.

Storm Trooper!

I can't figure out who does these storm trooper stencils. Maybe it's more than one person but in different styles? You can buy storm trooper stencils on eBay and Etsy. Seems like cheating to me.

GZUP, painted and pasted octopuses in a variety of flavors. Love his Facebook bio, which says he considers himself a vandal, not a street artist.

Signed Dana Lessi? caption says "pourquoi vivre quand on" as far as I can tell. Why live when [something]? Why live on? There's more text under it I can't read.

Lot going on here, around the corner from the Picasso Musem on Rue Elzevir! (If you're keeping track, we're at point 6 on the map.) Even the street sign and do not enter sign are tagged.

You can see our beer-drinking girlfriend is peeling. I read somewhere that people try to take them off in one piece, as they can be worth a lot of money. Doesn't quite seem in the spirit of things.

The rhino is by Bowti Cat; you can see some similar ones on her Google+ page

The square thing is pasted on; looks like a drawing in ball point pen and reminded me of something you'd see in an eighth-grade boy's school notebook. 

And the ubiquitous trompe l'oeil security camera. Meta.

Dance party at a pop-up shop in an alley--more on shopping (lots and lots of shopping) in another post.

Here's where I stumbled back onto Rue du Temple. Top to bottom GZUP, Space Invader, really cute gray skirt with white flowers on it.

Kraken! And that's the extent of what I turned up in a way-too-long Google search session. 

So bottom line I got to see my graffiti, but I would still like to take the tour. There are so many different names and styles. It would be nice to know a little more about it all. 

Further reading/viewing:
Very nice photo essay on Paris street art and information from Underground Paris tour guide Demian Smith here

Vandalog blog--graffiti and street art pics from around the world. 

Foder's "Medieval Paris: A Walking Tour of the Marais" here.

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