Mural Painting, Urban Expression or Street Art: a little piece of the history of Street Art

Peinture Murale, Expression Urbaine ou Art de Rue: un petit bout de l'histoire du Street Art - Pixel Corner

The Genesis of Street Art

When we think of Street Art, we immediately think of modern, vibrant and colorful art created on the streets of New York a few years ago. Except that in reality, the origins of Street Art are much older. If we take the very definition of street art, which is to represent one's own works in public space in view of as many people as possible, then cavemen are the first pioneers of street art.

Later, other ethnic groups and civilizations continued to write or share their drawings, by painting on frescoes or by engraving their names on famous monuments or major places of passage. So, a form of Street Art has sort of always existed.

Modern Street Art was born at the beginning of the 20th century, particularly as an act of rebellion and political commitment in countries like Mexico or post-1910 Russia. This art then mainly serves as propaganda but marks the beginning of a new artistic era where drawing, calligraphy and messages are mixed for the masses.

Russian Army Propaganda Year 1940-1950

It was only in 1960 in the suburbs of Philadelphia in the United States that a new movement began that we called “Graffiti”. This urban mode of expression was quickly imported to New York at the end of the 1960s and experienced a meteoric rise as it mingled with the explosion of the hip-hop movement. Art school students quickly joined the “graffiti writters” movement and began expressing their art in the city streets and subway corridors. The 2 most emblematic artists of this New York period are Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who allow us to move from the classic lettering of graffiti artists to figurative, even minimalist representation. The main idea for these artists is to be able to reproduce a drawing, symbol or lettering as quickly as possible in order not to be caught by the police or security agents.

Seen NYC

The different techniques of Street Art

Numerous urban expression techniques were subsequently developed by artists. Here is a quick overview of the different practices:

  • street installation: inspired by sculptures, often in 3D, these installations can be made from any materials.
  • the stencil: pre-cut designs on radio sheets or cardboard
  • yarn bombing: installation of colored threads, knitting or crochet on street furniture
  • the sticker: installation of pre-drawn or printed stickers
  • graffiti: the original form of expression using spray paint
  • mosaic: arrangement of works in pre-fabricated mosaics or filling holes in public spaces

  • video projection: or video-mapping, method mainly used for general public shows
  • tape art: use of tape mixed or not with paint

Tap Street Art

The most emblematic artists

After the New York beginnings initiated by the hip-hop movement. Street art really took off at the end of the 90s, particularly when the British artist Banksy decided to put giant stencils on the wall between Israel and Palestine. Banksy will become the spearhead of the (re)birth of the street art movement, sublimating the art of stencils and other techniques to convey impactful messages.

Tank Tow-Away Banksy Bethlehem

In France, street art or urban visual expression, as some like to call it, arrived in Paris in the 1980s. The first emblematic figures of this movement were the artists Blek le Rat, Gérard Zlotykamien, Jeff Aerosol and even the late Miss Tic. They will soon be followed by a new generation of artists in the 90s, who will benefit from increased visibility thanks to the appearance of social networks and the first smartphones. In France, this new wave includes artists like JonOne, Jace, Invader, Mr. A and L'Atlas. Abroad, in addition to the stencil genius of Bristol mentioned above, artists like Shepard Fairey, Kaws and D-Face are giving their credentials to the revival of the street-art movement.

Paris Street Art Beaubourg

Today street art is completely democratized, painting is done on so-called “legal” walls or via direct order by institutions and companies. The street invites itself into our lives outside but now also our interiors, thanks to the work of (certain) art galleries which have been able to integrate and pay homage to these multiple street artists. Whether it is carried by a message, an aesthetic, a technique or just fun, colors and life, Street Art speaks to everyone and helps brighten up the often graying walls of our cities. Pixel Corner also offers you the opportunity to simply introduce yourself to street art thanks to our Pixel Art mosaic kits inspired by pop and urban culture. Decorate your walls with style or add color to your streets, with our colorful mosaic kits including all the equipment from professionals in the discipline!

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