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Blek Le Rat

Blek Le Rat

France • Born in: 1951

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Blek le Rat (born Xavier Prou, 1952) was one of the first graffiti artists in Paris, and has been described as the "Father of stencil graffiti".

Xavier Prou was born in Boulogne-Billancourt in the western suburbs of Paris. Prou began his artwork in 1981, painting stencils of rats on the walls of Paris streets. He described the rat as "the only free animal in the city", and one which "spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art". His name originates from the comic book Blek le Roc, using "rat" as an anagram for "art".

Initially influenced by the early graffiti-art of New York City after a visit in 1971, he chose a style which he felt better suited Paris, due to the differing architecture of the two cities. He also recognised the influence of Canadian artist Richard Hambleton, who painted large-scale human figures in the 1980s. He is credited with inventing the life-sized stencil, and recognised as the first to transform stencil from basic lettering into pictoral art. His oldest preserved street art graffito, a 1991 replica of Caravaggio's Madonna di Loreta, which he dedicated to his future wife Sybille, was rediscovered behind posters on a house wall in Leipzig, Germany, in 2012.

French authorities identified Blek in 1991 when he was arrested while stencilling a replica of Caravaggio's Madonna and Child, with the connection to Blek and his artwork being made by police. From that point on, he has worked exclusively with pre-stenciled posters, citing the speedier application of the medium to walls, as well as lessened punishment should he be caught in the act.

He has had a great influence on today's graffiti-art and "guerilla-art" movements, the main motivation of his work being social consciousness and the desire to bring art to the people. Many of his pieces are pictorials of solitary individuals in opposition to larger, oppressive groups. He has also been noted for his series of images representing the homeless, begun in 2006, which depict them standing, sitting, or lying on sidewalks, in attempts to bring attention to what he views as a global problem.

British graffiti artist Banksy has acknowledged Blek's influence stating "every time I think I've painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier." The two have expressed mutual desire for collaboration; in 2011, Blek was seen adding to a mural begun the previous year by Banksy in the Mission District, San Francisco.

Blek initially disagreed with those who claim Banksy has copied his work: "People say he copies me, but I don't think so. I'm the old man, he's the new kid, and if I'm an inspiration to an artist that good, I love it. I feel what he is doing in London is similar to the rock movement in the Sixties." More recently, however, in the documentary Graffiti Wars, Blek took a different tone, stating, "When I see Banksy making a man with a child or Banksy making rats, of course I see immediately where he takes the idea. I do feel angry. When you're an artist you use your own techniques. It's difficult to find a technique and style in art so when you have a style and you see someone else is taking it and reproducing it, you don't like that. I'm not sure about his integrity. Maybe he has to show his face now and show what kind of guy he is."

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Blek Le Rat, Red Rat, Print

Blek Le Rat

Red Rat, 2016 9.8 x 9.8 x 0.4 inch Print

$778

Blek Le Rat, The man who walks through the walls (German), Print

Blek Le Rat

The man who walks through the walls (German), 2016 29.9 x 22 x 0.4 inch Print

$1,654

Blek Le Rat, Computer Man, Print

Blek Le Rat

Computer Man, 2008 29.1 x 28.3 x 0.4 inch Print

$1,239

Blek Le Rat, The Homeless, Print

Blek Le Rat

The Homeless, 2022 22 x 29.9 inch Print

$3,111

Blek Le Rat, L'anarchiste, Print

Blek Le Rat

L'anarchiste, 2020 9.1 x 12.2 inch Print

$3,111

Blek Le Rat, Graffiti King, Print

Blek Le Rat

Graffiti King, 2017 29.9 x 22 x 0.4 inch Print

$1,944

Blek Le Rat, Patron of Arts, Print

Blek Le Rat

Patron of Arts, 2019 29.9 x 22 x 0.4 inch Print

$1,944

Blek Le Rat, The Street Artist Paraphernalia (Framed), Print

Blek Le Rat

The Street Artist Paraphernalia (Framed), 2015 9.1 x 12.2 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, After The Apocalypse (Framed), Print

Blek Le Rat

After The Apocalypse (Framed), 2017 9.1 x 12.2 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Rat No. 5, Print

Blek Le Rat

Rat No. 5, 2019 12.2 x 9.1 x 0.4 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Warrior (Le Guerrier), Print

Blek Le Rat

Warrior (Le Guerrier), 2017 9.1 x 12.2 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Rat numero 5, Print

Blek Le Rat

Rat numero 5, 2019 12.2 x 8.3 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Rat N°5, Print

Blek Le Rat

Rat N°5, 2019 12.2 x 9.1 x 0 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, His master's voiceless, Print

Blek Le Rat

His master's voiceless, 2008 29.1 x 28.3 x 0.4 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, His master's voiceless, Print

Blek Le Rat

His master's voiceless, 2008 29.1 x 28.3 x 0.4 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Rope Pulling (Yellow), Print

Blek Le Rat

Rope Pulling (Yellow), 2021 22 x 29.9 x 0.4 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, The Year 2020, Print

Blek Le Rat

The Year 2020, 2020 29.9 x 22 x 0.4 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, L’Homme Qui Traverse les Murs, Print

Blek Le Rat

L’Homme Qui Traverse les Murs, 2016 15 x 11 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, L'anarchiste, Print

Blek Le Rat

L'anarchiste, 2020 9.1 x 12.2 x 0 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Man who walks through walls, Print

Blek Le Rat

Man who walks through walls, 2007 28.3 x 20.1 inch Print

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Our recommendations Blek Le Rat, Mona Lisa, Painting

Blek Le Rat

Mona Lisa, 2016 63.8 x 44.9 inch Painting

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Blek Le Rat, Le Sacré du Graffiti, Print

Blek Le Rat

Le Sacré du Graffiti, 2017 29.9 x 22 x 0.4 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, L'anarchiste, Print

Blek Le Rat

L'anarchiste, 2020 9.1 x 12.6 x 0.4 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Le Guerrier – édition spéciale, Print

Blek Le Rat

Le Guerrier – édition spéciale, 2020 9.1 x 12.2 x 0 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Rat N° 5, Print

Blek Le Rat

Rat N° 5, 2019 12.2 x 9.1 x 0 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Rat Flower, Print

Blek Le Rat

Rat Flower, 2017 9.1 x 12 x 1.2 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Golden Rat, Print

Blek Le Rat

Golden Rat, 2020 9.8 x 9.8 x 0.4 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Last Tango, Painting

Blek Le Rat

Last Tango, 2008 65.6 x 52.6 x 1.6 inch Painting

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Blek Le Rat, The Warrior, Print

Blek Le Rat

The Warrior, 2018 9.1 x 12.2 x 0 inch Print

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Blek Le Rat, Danseuse, Painting

Blek Le Rat

Danseuse, 2009 39.4 x 39.4 inch Painting

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Who is the artist?

Blek le Rat (born Xavier Prou, 1952) was one of the first graffiti artists in Paris, and has been described as the "Father of stencil graffiti".

Xavier Prou was born in Boulogne-Billancourt in the western suburbs of Paris. Prou began his artwork in 1981, painting stencils of rats on the walls of Paris streets. He described the rat as "the only free animal in the city", and one which "spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art". His name originates from the comic book Blek le Roc, using "rat" as an anagram for "art".

Initially influenced by the early graffiti-art of New York City after a visit in 1971, he chose a style which he felt better suited Paris, due to the differing architecture of the two cities. He also recognised the influence of Canadian artist Richard Hambleton, who painted large-scale human figures in the 1980s. He is credited with inventing the life-sized stencil, and recognised as the first to transform stencil from basic lettering into pictoral art. His oldest preserved street art graffito, a 1991 replica of Caravaggio's Madonna di Loreta, which he dedicated to his future wife Sybille, was rediscovered behind posters on a house wall in Leipzig, Germany, in 2012.

French authorities identified Blek in 1991 when he was arrested while stencilling a replica of Caravaggio's Madonna and Child, with the connection to Blek and his artwork being made by police. From that point on, he has worked exclusively with pre-stenciled posters, citing the speedier application of the medium to walls, as well as lessened punishment should he be caught in the act.

He has had a great influence on today's graffiti-art and "guerilla-art" movements, the main motivation of his work being social consciousness and the desire to bring art to the people. Many of his pieces are pictorials of solitary individuals in opposition to larger, oppressive groups. He has also been noted for his series of images representing the homeless, begun in 2006, which depict them standing, sitting, or lying on sidewalks, in attempts to bring attention to what he views as a global problem.

British graffiti artist Banksy has acknowledged Blek's influence stating "every time I think I've painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier." The two have expressed mutual desire for collaboration; in 2011, Blek was seen adding to a mural begun the previous year by Banksy in the Mission District, San Francisco.

Blek initially disagreed with those who claim Banksy has copied his work: "People say he copies me, but I don't think so. I'm the old man, he's the new kid, and if I'm an inspiration to an artist that good, I love it. I feel what he is doing in London is similar to the rock movement in the Sixties." More recently, however, in the documentary Graffiti Wars, Blek took a different tone, stating, "When I see Banksy making a man with a child or Banksy making rats, of course I see immediately where he takes the idea. I do feel angry. When you're an artist you use your own techniques. It's difficult to find a technique and style in art so when you have a style and you see someone else is taking it and reproducing it, you don't like that. I'm not sure about his integrity. Maybe he has to show his face now and show what kind of guy he is."

What is Blek Le Rat’s artistic movement?

The artistic movements of the artists are: Famous Street Artists

When was Blek Le Rat born?

The year of birth of the artist is: 1951