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French Street Artists

Their works decorate streets, buildings, and our global urban environment. Longtime regarded as vandals, graffiti artists are now appreciated for their true worth in France, and their work is exhibited in some of the most prestigious cultural institutions and art galleries. 

So, who are the artists who changed the people's attitudes in France, and who are their successors?  Contrary to popular belief, street art is nothing new to art history, archaeologists have even graffiti when excavating Roman ruins. However, the movement as we known it today was born in the 1960s in Philadelphia and quickly spread to the concrete jungle of New York, which became its epicenter. In France, the student revolts of May 1968 marked a turning point for the practice, as it became a tool for spreading their opinions. Using slogans and catchphrases, protesters used the walls as their canvas in order to broadcast their ideas to the whole population. 

However, it was not until the 1980s and 1990s, decades of more intense urbanisation, that street art truly took off in France. For example, Blek le Rat and Jérôme Mesnager's poetic characters started invading the capital's streets. Through their work, they highlighted social issues and condemned inequalities. Street artists had to operate in secrecy and with the greatest discretion as the police actively looked for graffiti artists and often issued hefty fines if they caught one. In the 1990s, artists developed new techniques to be as efficient as possible; stencils, spray paint, collages appeared. 

Street artists quickly started developing their personal style, and their creativity is limitless. Each artist has their own codes, their favorite "spots," and their fans. At the beginning of the 2000s, Street Art starting becoming institutionalized. For example, Paris' city council put 80 street artists from the MUR collective (Modulable, Urban, Reactive) in charge of creating murals for several billboards on the Oberkampf Street.

Today, street artists have had the opportunity to show their work many times, and in some of the most prestigious museums in Paris, including the Le Grand Palais, Le Palais de Tokyo, le Centre Pompidou... Some are even becoming genuine celebrities, and the prices of their artworks are constantly increasing. 

Among the most famous artists, there is French Street Artist Jef Aérosol who is inspired by his passion for music. As he stated himself, the punk movement inspired his signature black and white characters. These can be found in the  streets of many French cities, as well as in London, Rome, and Lisbon. Jef Aérosol's work is always easily identifiable because of his signature red arrow, his way of signing the works. 

Jeanjerome, uses random objects that he finds on the street, such as sneakers or skateboards. By mixing the curved forms of the Art Nouveau with the energetic Street Art style he creates colorful, psychedelic artworks.

Miss TIC's stencils have decorated Paris' walls for decades now. With her sensual and rebellious feminine figures, she plays with gender stereotypes and questions the place of women within society. 

Alongside artists working predominantly with painting, there are also photographers to be counted amongst the most influential French street artist. For example, JR an artist who immortalizes the faces people from a variety of countries and ethnicities with his gigantic installations. 

You'll find street artists' artworks all over Paris and other cities in France. Explore some of France's most famous street artists on Artsper today!

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