The best art isn’t always behind the velvet ropes. Graffiti, once a punishable act of pavement protest, has become a bona fide art form. Travelers with an artistic eye can check out the movement’s seminal works and rising stars on city streets, crumbling edifices, and all manners of the alleyway. From Berlin to Buenos Aires, here’s where to spot global talent in the top cities for street art.
Mexico City, Spain
You can see some incredible street art in Mexico City, where public murals with historical significance have been a part of the city landscape for many years. The city just recently became more colorful after “All City Canvas” went into play. The graffiti art in Mexico City conducted for this project was legal; in fact it took 11 long months to gather the appropriate permissions. 9 artists, some local and some foreign, were then brought in to paint the buildings as they are today.
It’s a small town about 280 miles southwest of Paris may not be the obvious tourist destination in France. But the town is home to European School of Visual Arts, which offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in comic art, and an annual comics festival, earning it the nickname “Capital of the Comic Strip”. And luckily, you don’t have to go indoors to find these comics: Many artists practice their work in larger scale on local buildings.
The Wynwood Art District has become one of the world’s hot spots for murals and wall paintings, featuring works by prominent artists, many who visit during the Miami’s annual Art Basel festival.
London is awash with street art, and the world’s best artists all end up here at some point tagging up walls with the rest of the cool kids. Southbank is a good spot for graffiti in London. Other infamous spots include the ever-cool Shoreditch and Hackney.
Street art can be found everywhere in Berlin. On screens, facades, doorways and on walls, but also in places where one might not expect to find art. Public art inspires Berliners and visitors alike. It makes the cityscape more colourful and can be appreciated by everyone. Berlin’s street art is known around the world: artists such as El Bocho, XOOOOX and Evol live and work here. Even Banksy has been immortalized in Berlin.
Prague, Czech Republic
All of the streets of Prague are splashed with graffiti art. Graffiti is an active outlet here, allowing so much culture to be seen throughout the writings on the walls. Some well-known street artists responsible for a lot of the work done throughout Prague include CRYTIC257, SKARF, TRON, and EPOS 257. Their real name is unknown; this is how they sign their work.
The street art in Athens is said to be the biggest in the world. You can’t help but notice the excessive amount of graffiti that coats every available surface throughout city, where every available wall, shop front, brick wall or obscure alley is a canvas waiting to be filled with artistic optimism, political reference or social satire.
Iceland’s relatively lax laws about graffiti art have enabled local artists to get creative with their outdoor expression. You can walk down just about any street in central Reykjavik, we’ll find a bright, diverse range of work from a variety of artists.
Los Angeles, California
The Southern California metropolis plays a huge role in the street art world. In 2011, its Museum of Contemporary Art hosted a controversial exhibit on the topic, helping legitimize the genre. The city’s arts district on the edge of downtown is particularly rich with offerings. “It’s got an amazing concentration of open walls and pieces from some of the most famous street artists in the world,” Laboureau says.
São Paulo, Brazil
It’s one of the best cities for street art thanks in part to an active counterculture and talented street artists like Os Gêmeos. You’ll be struck by the beautiful street art in São Paulo.
Belfast has become a place where art has flourished, where artists from around the world have come to paint. When visiting Northern Ireland’s capital, it is hard not to notice the colourful paintings throughout the city. They represent the city’s culture, history and political views. Within the city there are two main types of murals: republican and loyalist. As many people know Belfast is divided into protestant and catholic areas, with the former residing with the East and South, and the latter in the West and North.
Montreal plays host to a Mural Festival every June, but the local arts community keeps producing work year round, even in the coldest days of winter. Much of the work has a political bent, calling attention to decaying buildings, speaking up about community issues like poverty, or making fun of politicians.
Two artists, Przemyslaw Biejzyk and Mateusz Gapski, collectively known as “Etam”, have created most of the artwork graffiti in Lodz. The graffiti paintings are varied and unique, but each one plays on a different Polish folklore.
Melbourne is known as one of the world’s great street art capitals for its unique expressions of art displayed on approved outdoor locations throughout the city. Melbourne’s street art is internationally renowned and offers a feast of colour, ideas and energy. It has become an attraction for local and overseas visitors experiencing Melbourne’s creative ambience.
Santiago, with its deeply evolved and extremely active underground graffiti scene, bursts at the seams with an abundance of eye-popping, jaw-dropping murals.