From international cities like London, to those closer to home like New York, street art has become a reputed form of creativity. If you’re interested in visual arts, check out a few of these inspiring locations in this guest post by New York, NY tutor Lauren P…
While almost every city in the world has street art, the following cities stand out because their art is physically impossible to miss. Whether visiting specific installations by famous artists or enjoying the unintentional encounter with a breathtaking mural, the below cities have something for everyone.
The work of London street artists became legal and popularized after the Tate Modern hosted an exhibit of six world-renowned street artists. Now the city government has sponsored and even protected in plastic various murals and sculptures throughout the city. Tourists will find the most famous works by Banksy, Stik, Eine, and Jonesy in the East End, Shoreditch, and Spitalfields. Graffiti depicting London’s past wrongdoings, along with modern, unidentifiable abstract designs stir the imagination and social conscience of tourists and locals alike.
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City street art is as educational as it is decorative. Pedestrians cannot help but learn about the political and social history of the country from art dating back to Diego Rivera’s murals of the 1920s. More recently, the city commissioned local artists to convert bleak city walls into images that inspire. For example, contemporary artists, like Roa and El Mac transformed some of the cities most recognizable buildings during the All City Canvas Festival. Any visitor to Mexico City will learn a great deal about the social struggles and hopes of its people.
New York, NY, USA
New York street art is among the best, with the largest amount and variety in the world, as well as having the oldest tradition of street art. While new graffiti springs up every day, it all started in the 1960s and 1970s. Thanks to Brooklyn-born Basquiat, graffiti became recognized as a respected art form in international museums. For commercial feats, Midtown boasts billboards in Times Square, window displays on Fifth Avenue, rotating sculptures on Madison, and mosaics in the subway. Spanish Harlem, Chelsea, and Bushwick have the most elaborate murals and an array of graffiti. Tourists who only have time for one borough should not miss the Graffiti Hall of Fame on 106th and Park. Otherwise, tags and posters can be enjoyed on every street corner.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
With the government and home owners’ permission, Buenos Aires has become one of the most beautiful locations for street art in the world. The must-see district of Caminito claims to be the first outdoor pedestrian museum. Famous artists, such as Martin Ron, have created fantastical 2-D and 3-D works around the city. Like art around the globe, the street murals offer social commentary on historical and current events. On the other hand, wildly painted buildings and imaginative sculptures bring life to once dreary streets.
Since the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, artists have been adding color and cries for freedom. The history of the wall itself inspires the 105 murals along the .8-mile stretch of the East Side Gallery. Original art is preserved while contemporary artists include Os Gemeos and Blu. The wall is not the only place in Berlin for street art; the neighboring town of Kreuzberg is home to the largest stencil in the world, while new and old work can also be found in the central Mitte district, where the former store, Tacheles, is now completely covered in art.
Cape Town, South Africa
Most of the artwork remembers South Africa’s Apartheid past or celebrates their hard-won freedom and equality. Local youth groups and community-improvement organizations collaborate to honor their citizens and beautify their city. In the heart of Cape Town city-center, the buildings lining long street are covered in murals representative of Cape Town’s blended culture. However, images of Mandela and racial segregation are not the only art in Cape Town’s streets; the traditionally Indian district Bo Kaap is known for its side-by-side homes painted in a vibrant palette of lime green, purple, magenta, and orange.
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Philadelphia is home to the largest public arts program in the United States — Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program. Ironically, it began as a government-funded effort to reduce unattractive graffiti. Graffiti artists, including Shepard Fairey and Get Up, were recruited to paint government-approved murals. Evidence of the effort’s success can be found along “Mural Mile” and the more than 3,600 full-sized murals spread throughout the city.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
The art of Sao Paulo can be found on lesser-frequented side streets, abandoned building, and even an open-air museum; MAAU displays murals by more than 60 artists. Colorful work by one artist, Eduardo Kobra, conceals entire buildings. Even the highways leading into the city are flanked by murals and city-condoned graffiti.
Each of the above eight cities has a perfect balance of art that is politically relevant and refreshingly irrelevant in its childlike imaginativeness. From Berlin to London to New York, street art has become so integral to the culture of these cities that they have become works of art in their own right.
Lauren tutors various subjects in New York, NY. She has her Master’s Degree in Education (with a concentration in students with learning disabilities), and is a certified NYC Special Education teacher. Learn more about Lauren here!