Arrondissement 13 – A Mecca for Street Art connoisseurs
Read the ultimate guide to street art in the 13th district of Paris. A true Mecca for street art connoisseurs, this neighborhood surely doesn’t disappoint. Monumental, large-scale murals are awaiting you – among them the two largest murals in Europe. All the giants have left their mark here: Obey, Invader, Inti, C215, Seth Globepainter, Jace, FAILE, Reka One, Kashink, Borondo, David de la Mano, Tristan Eaton, and many more. The list reads like the who is who of the graffiti world. Street Art Paris 13 is the absolute center of the street art universe! What you don’t find here, you won’t find anywhere else. An extraterrestrial experience…
Street Art Paris 13 • A Map
Artists & Locations
Artist: David de la Mano
Location: 3 Rue Jenner (Street Art Paris 13)
A myriad of tiny little dancing creatures all float towards the densening silhouette of a pitch-black human face. On zooming in, one can discern the miniature details that Spanish street artist David de la Mano has provided his driven brain-children with: Some possess animal heads, a few sport Pinocchio-esque noses, others wear conic hats or balance bird cages on their heads, and others again have claws instead of hands. That everything is held in an entirely monochromatic style goes without saying. Working exclusively with black-and-white images has become de la Mano’s unique artistic signature. Through his shrewd poetic imagery de la Mano often dwells on themes that concern society and the state of mankind.
To find out more about David de la Mano, the person and his art, visit:
1) 141 Boulevard Vincent Auriol (Street Art Paris 13)
2) Quai d’Austerlitz, opposite house nb. 3 (Street Art Paris 13)
3) Corner of Rue Raymond Aron & Quai Francois Mauriac (Street Art Paris 13)
French street artist Christian Guémy, who popularly goes under the pseudonym C215, is best known for his artistic renditions of the outcasts or less-fortunate of society. Portraits of refugees, beggars, senior citizens, immigrants, homeless people, street children; all those marginalized by our dog-eat-dog world are brought back into the artist’s spotlight as if to remind society of its responsibility to recognize them and to deal with the problems of a socially-torn community. While Guémy is primarily noted for his adept use of stencils, one of his most famous artworks in the city of Paris is a mural of a gigantic, innocent cat overlooking the busy traffic on Boulevard Vincent Auriol. Whether the neighborhood has opened their homes for C215’s straying cat is unknown, but it sure has found a place inside our heart.
Learn more about C215 here:
Artist: Seth Globepainter
1) 2 Rue Emile Deslandres (Street Art Paris 13)
2) 112 Rue Jeanne d’Arc (Street Art Paris 13)
3) 29 Rue des Cordelieres (Street Art Paris 13)
4) Corner of Rue du Loiret & Rue Regnault (Street Art Paris 13)
5) Corner of Rue de Julienne & Boulevard Arago (Street Art Paris 13)
One of my favorite street artists of all time is Seth Globepainter, whose actual name is Julien Malland. Seth always seems to carry rainbows in his pockets, as his murals are virtually dripping with color and vibrancy. Almost all of Seth’s characters bear a dreamlike, cartoon-style signature and in most of his artworks one will not be able to see his characters’ faces. They always disappear into colorful clouds or face the other way. Despite all the positivity created by the abundant use of colors, one therefore cannot help but notice a certain quality of wistfulness or melancholy about Seth’s murals.
Take for example the magnificent mural of the slender girl sitting in a colorful, upside-down turned umbrella: She is floating amidst a vast sea of gray umbrellas, above her colorful flying fish under a full moon. Her posture is crouched, the girl being in the non-color of gray as well. Is this a girl living in an anonymous, faceless world? A girl who dwells among a faceless mass of other gray human beings who have lost their touch with the colorful magic of mother nature (represented by the colorful flying fish and the tiny gecko sitting next to the girl)? Where does she look so yearningly?
However, as long there is color, there is hope, right?! After all, the literary character of Momo (from Michael Ende’s famous fantasy novel of the same title) also triumphs against the faceless assembly of The Men in Grey at the end…
Follow the latest news about Seth Globepainter’s art here:
1) 93 Rue Jeanne d’Arc (Street Art Paris 13)
2) Corner of Rue Nationale & Boulevard Vincent Auriol (Street Art Paris 13)
3) 60 Rue Jeanne d’Arc (Street Art Paris 13)
Another heavyweight of the international street art scene who has indelibly left his mark in the 13th arrondissement is American artist Shepard Fairey, aka Obey. Certainly almost everybody in the world has come across the famous Obama Hope-posters that Fairey designed for the presidential campaign of the 44th president of the United States. Hardly lesser known is the intriguing pop-cultural movement that Fairey sparked off in 1989 when he started plastering the cities of this world with ‘Obey Giant’-posters. On these posters one can see the somber stare of André the Giant, a famous French-born WWF wrestling star; below the face the simple logotype “Obey!”
Three of Fairey’s creations can be found on the high-rises of the Parisian Quartier de la Gare. One of them is in the direct vicinity of C215’s ethereal cat: A French flag stating the national motto of France ‘Liberte, Egality, Fraternite’ (Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood), fittingly located at the Rue Nationale. The second one is called ‘Earth Crisis’, which displays our world embedded into a delicate mandala. The mandala balances on the tip of the Eiffel Tower and at the top one can see the Statue of Liberty. The last one is, like the previous one, on Rue Jeanne d’Arc and shows a woman wearing heavy make-up, all kept in the simple hues of red, black and gray. Hidden in all of Fairey’s murals is of course his artistic signature – The face of André the Giant, the symbol which made him famous.
Location: Corner of Rue Eugene Atget & Boulevard Auguste Blanqui (Street Art Paris 13)
Tintin by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi is one of the most famous European comic book series of all time alongside comics like Asterix & Obelix or Lucky Luke. It comes as no surprise that one should find images of Tintin street art in Paris, so close to the country of origin of the comics. However, this particular stencil might raise a few eyebrows: Tintin and Captain Haddock intimately kissing? Haddock’s left hand resting on Tintin’s tushy? Both flamboyantly wearing pink loafers?
Okay, people had always speculated that Tintin might be queer. After all, he never had a girlfriend; as a matter of fact there were barely any female characters at all in the comic book series; Tintin also had this sort of androgynous quality about his entire appearance; and most importantly he actually LIVED with Captain Haddock. Nothing is definite of course, it’s all speculation. But one has to applaud the artist’s courage to actually continue to write the narrative and give Tintin a nudge towards outspoken street artistic homosexuality. 😀
1) 81 Boulevard Vincent Auriol (Street Art Paris 13)
2) 129 Avenue d’Italie (Street Art Paris 13)
3) Rue Lahire (Street Art Paris 13)
In times of the absurd burkini ban in certain coastal towns of France one has to agonizingly wonder whether it is allowed to depict a woman wearing an Islamic veil (hijab) or not. All kidding aside, Inti’s art often deals with themes like religion, Christianity in particular, South American mythology, life, death and politics, and this is also evident in this piece. The veiled woman, bedded on a sea of purple roses, radiates an aura of saintliness. Carrying the universe right around her neck and hands, she also wears the symbols of voodoo and the dark arts on her neck and wrists: little skulls.
On these skulls one can make out symbols of religion and mysticism. The Christian cross, the Jewish Star of David, a satanic pentagram, the Arabic crescent moon and if I’m not mistaken the calligraphic representation of the word Allah. Quite a mix that is and one got to wonder whether there is a hidden political-religious meaning behind the symbolic onslaught that Inti is confronting us with. After all he is the Chilean master of the puppets as one can clearly see in another one of his murals at Avenue d’Italie: A puppet being controlled by a puppet whose strings are pulled by yet another puppet. Deep stuff!
Artist: Monsieur Chat
Location: Rue de Croulebarbe, opposite house nb. 5 (Street Art Paris 13)
Is it Lewis Carroll’s notorious Cheshire Cat that is grinning at you so mischievously from across the wall? Whether or not Monsieur Chat’s impish yellow house tiger has been inspired by Carroll’s story of Alice in Wonderland, you will have a hard time keeping it off your camera roll while in Paris. It is simply as omnipresent as French baguettes or frantic Parisian drivers trying to run you over at the pedestrian crossing. So take a picture of the damn cat already, you don’t even have to say ‘cheese’. It is smiling the entire fricking time anyway 😉 While Monsieur Chat managed to stay anonymous for the best of 10 years, he was eventually caught in the act of spraying his cat on a house wall in 2007. So now we are lucky enough to present you with the actual name of the man who created the French version of Mr Whiskerson: Thoma Vuille.
1) 42 Boulevard Vincent Auriol (Street Art Paris 13)
2) Passage du Moulin des Pres (Street Art Paris 13)
3) Rue Watteau (Street Art Paris 13)
Get your game controllers ready, it’s time to play some good old arcade games! This time the invasion is for real though. The urban world is the gaming arena and you’re under attack by a bunch of pixelated computer characters that have come to life on the facades of the houses of Paris. This street artist certainly needs no further introduction, but we’ll do it nonetheless just in case you might have missed his tile-work and mosaics taking over your very own city since the mid 1990s.
Invader, whose street art pseudonym obviously refers to the 1978 classic arcade game Space Invaders, is a street artist from France. He mainly works with tiles, since it goes well with the virtual characters that he displays: One tile for every computer pixel. His real identity is a well guarded secret, though he has been quite active and his art has also been widely covered in documentaries and on the web. Invader keeps track of all of his street art creations on a world map on his website: Currently 3386 invasive pieces of street art have been installed in 67 cities of the world by Invader, most of them in Europe. There is actually an app called Flash Invader which allows you to hunt his street art and compete with other players in who has found the most. Invader even managed to get one of his artworks onto the ISS space station. Google it if you don’t believe it 😉
Artist: Jana & JS
Location: 110 Rue Jeanne d’Arc (Street Art Paris 13)
Jana & JS (Jean-Sebastien) are an Austrian-French couple who have been working together since 2006. Their art can be found in the streets of the world as well as in art galleries. In their stencils they often depict themselves holding cameras and taking photographs. We can perfectly see this in the mural at 110 Rue Jeanne d’Arc. While I am in the course of capturing Jana and Jean-Sebastien, he is aiming his camera directly at me whereas she is taking a picture of Jean-Sebastien. It almost seems like a Mexican standoff.
In any case it certainly creates a funny feeling being under the symbolic lens of surveillance and raises the question that had already been posed by French philosopher Michel Foucault in his well-known book Discipline and Punish: Who is actually the subject and who the object? Who is the observer and who is being observed? In a world where almost every moment and everybody is being monitored certainly a topic that deserves a closer investigation.
Artist: FAILE (Patrick McNeil & Patrick Miller)
Location: 110 Rue Jeanne d’Arc (Street Art Paris 13)
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller have been working together under the pseudonym FAILE since 1999. The moniker doesn’t have any particular meaning, but is simply an anagram of a previous project (“A Life”) that the two had undertaken. FAILE’s art is influenced by pop-art and often uses collages and bright, pure colors as is evident in the mural of a ballet dancer titled “I held my breath” (Et j’ai retenu mon soufflé) at 110 Rue Jeanne d’Arc.
Location: Place de Venetie (Street Art Paris 13)
Even though the graceful Great Blue Heron is originally a bird native to the wetlands of North America, it seems to fit right in with the multicultural melting-pot of the Parisian Quartier Asiatique – the Asian quarter. Majestically it has taken under its enormous wings the (with 50.000 people) largest Asian neighborhood of Europe, predominantly made up of people of Chinese, Vietnamese and Laotian descent. Speaking of superlatives, the monumental mural by Parisian artist SteW is the second largest ever to be accomplished on the European continent. The sky-scratching concrete canvas at Stew’s disposal encompassed a whopping 52×14 meters and 30 liters of paint had to be used. Not too shabby for an artist who made his first artistic steps as a little 4-year old boy redecorating his nursery in the suburbs of Paris. Chapeau!
Artist: Pantonio (Antonio Correia)
Location: Place de Venetie (Street Art Paris 13)
Fluidity of movement and a dark, haunted visual restlessness have become the particular artistic vernacular spoken by Pantonio, a street artist from Lisbon, Portugal. Born in the Azores, an archipelago of 9 volcanic islands in the mid-Atlantic, Pantonio heavily draws upon the fantastic animal world of his childhood scenery for inspiration: Rabbits, turtles, and fish are continuously on the move, spiraling upwards. Everything is in the murky subterranean colors of black, dark-metallic blue and algae-green. And the longstanding fishing and marine tradition of Portugal is evoked in vivid fashion by the drawing of nautical ropes and buoys.
Located right next to Stew’s Great Blue Heron mural at the Place de Venetie in Little Asia, Pantonio’s gigantic fish mural is as a matter of fact the largest mural in Europe. Painted on the façade of the Tower of Siena (Tour Sienne) the mural encompasses a space of 66 meters in height and 15 meters in width and beats the surface of Stew’s mural handily by a difference of 262m².
Location: 13 Avenue de la Porte d’Italie (Street Art Paris 13)
Hats are hovering in mid-air; an elderly woman with skull mask is touching a hummingbird in the clouds; a woman is sitting on a swing in the sky, holding a white rabbit, a bird nesting in her laurel wreath. Fanciful, illogical, dreamlike, whimsical, surrealistic – street art always comes with a twist when Polish artist Sainer is involved. Born in Lodz in 1988, Sainer often works together with another street artist by the name of Betz, both forming the Etam Crew. Aiming for a career in football in his early youth, we are glad that this talented artist is now conjuring up his magic on the façades of the world instead.
Website Etam Crew: http://www.etamcru.com/
Website Sainer: http://pblejzyk.blogspot.fr/
Location: 122 Boulevard de l’hopital (Street Art Paris 13)
Ever felt like just a tiny little cog in the big machinery of the world? If so, you will feel right at home in the graffiti world of M-City who excels in creating a claustrophobic, industrial atmosphere with his mazelike structures of chimneys, engines, gear wheels and steamboats. A master of intricate arrangements, M-City confers a hypnotic rhythmic quality to this particular mural at 122 Boulevard de l’hopital by putting together flowing patterns of black waves and white triangles. These are interrupted by little areas where a wild jumble of high-rises and urban houses tries to break through the sea of black waves. In a way this work reminds me of some of MC Escher’s paintings with its recurrent, repetitive tessellations.
Artist: Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada
Location: Place Pinel (Street Art Paris 13)
Would you have happened to know the name of the man in the picture above? No? Of course not. Neither would we if we hadn’t done our research. His name is Phillipe Pinel. If you had ventured a guess based on the name of the square, you would accidentally have been lucky 😉 Why though did Mr Pinel make it up onto the wall? After all, realistic portrays are a rather unusual motif for street artistic endeavors. Well, the Cuban-born artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada has started a worldwide project called ‘Êtres Aimés’ (Loved Ones) through which he wishes to create a bridge between the community of a city, it’s history, important residents and their urban surroundings. Phillipe Pinel has been an instrumental figure in the advancement of the treatment of mentally handicapped patients and thus was chosen by the Parisian community as their ‘Loved One’.
Location: 95 Rue du Chevaleret (Street Art Paris 13)
Spanish muralist Gonzalo Borondo clearly puts an emphasis on conveying a deeper social meaning through his pieces of art. Ugly truths of what is going on in communities and society are revealed as Borondo mirrors human behavior in his thought-provoking murals. The somber “Three Generations” (Les Trois Ages) mural in the 13th Arrondissement of Paris is a case in point. The struggle of different generations living under one roof is expressed by the father blindfolding his son and the grandfather gagging the father. Emotions remain stifled and unexpressed. The burden of differing outlooks and paces of life are weighing heavy on the shoulders of each member of the family. Nobody is granted the right to make their voice heard in a meaningful discussion that seeks for shared solutions. And let’s not even start talking about the problems between different ethnicities (did you notice that the grandfather is of African descent?)! A painful symbolic reflection of actual society.
Artist: Zag & Sia
Locations: Two staircases, both between 30-50 Rue du Chevaleret (Street Art Paris 13)
As I take one step at a time up the steep stairway to the Parisian heaven I can hear her tender voice imploring me: “Tread softly. You tread on my dreams!“. I am obviously bound to step on the image of the beautiful, chic Parisian woman in her red blazer, black turtleneck, voluptuous red lips and flirtatious eyes. Where else should I tread – I mean, she is right there on the stairs. Though when poets and artists spread their dreams and ideals under our feet, we better step carefully so we won’t destroy the delicate beauty and truth upon which the sanity of humankind depends: The promise of a life beyond the toils and troubles of the coarse, pragmatic daily grind.
Zag & Sia have chosen the vehicle of anamorphosis to enter into a dialog between the unique viewpoints of artist, artwork and observer. The term anamorphosis stands for an image or drawing that can only be seen undistorted or in its true shape if viewed from a particular standpoint or angle. Plausibly, a staircase with its varied levels of steps lends itself naturally to the purpose of creating an image that is distorted from certain views but whole from an ideal standpoint. So a satisfying experience of the artwork can only be made through a conscious effort. But when the rare overlapping of ideal viewpoints occurs it is a thing of idealized beauty that should be seized and captured for eternity.
Artist: Reka One
Location: Corner of Rue Regnault & Rue du Chevaleret (Street Art Paris 13)
Artists often strive to challenge conventional forms of visual representation to offer fresh approaches, to provide themselves with a voice that will be heard, and to make sense of an exceedingly confusing modernist world: Reality and the otherworld are overlaid, distorted, abstracted and fragmented to play with different perceptions and perspectives. Australian artist James Reka, aka Reka One, has developed his own unique style of blending elements of abstract cubism with surrealism and succeeded in projecting it onto the underground medium of street art. Strong lines and simplified geometrical patterns are mixed with free-flowing organic structures. Bold but limited colors easily catch the observer’s eye. And a seemingly random misplacement of abstract fragments challenges the mind to remodel the painter’s vision and make it whole again. It certainly also doesn’t hurt if the unorthodox canvas of a brown-brick façade imparts its very own free-spirited pattern to the overall artwork 😉
Location: 59 Rue du Moulinet (Street Art Paris 13)
Street artist Jace is best known for being the creator of the so called ‘gouzous’ – small anthropomorphic (= bearing human characteristics) figures. Based on round shapes, these gouzous are stripped down to a simple humanoid outline. The details of their faces, hands and feet are not depicted by the artist. Based in Réunion Islands, a French department in the Indian Ocean, Jace has spread his cute, whimsical characters all around the world: Madagascar, Germany, Luxembourg … and of course also Paris, France. At 59 Rue du Moulinet, the gouzous have been put into a Nintendo setting of Donkey Kong and Super Mario Land by Jace. Here they have to avoid being crushed by falling wine casks, evade burning oil barrels and sidestep the ubiquitous Parisian dog turd. As if the topic of ‘merde’ could have been avoided completely in an article about Paris 😉
Location: 74 Rue Bobillot (Street Art Paris 13)
Street art is a rather male-centric domain. Comparing the numbers of male and female street artists in this article, the male artists clearly outnumber the female artists by 20:4. French artist Kashink however is one of the few female street artists who is not only extremely active in her own home country, but who has enriched the street art scene all around the world. She likes being provocative and constantly challenges the societal status quo and preconceived opinions. Her style is very striking. It includes lucid, vivid colors, thick lines and mostly depicts faces that are characterized by monstrous facial features with four eyes and moustaches. Kashink wears a moustache herself by the way!
Kashink’s complex art often makes it necessary to have a substantiated knowledge about the art scene and the world in general in order to be able to decipher the hidden meanings in her murals. In this particular mural at 74 Rue Bobillot the key to unlocking the message contained in the painting lies within the Latin expression “Vanitas, Vanitatum Et Omnia Vanitas” (Vanity of vanities and all is vanity) which is originally taken from the book Ecclesiastes of the Hebrew bible. The word “vanitas” can be understood in two different ways:
(1) The original, older (pre-14th century) meaning of the English word ‘vanity’ stands for everything being futile or empty. Thus the statement suggests that everything in life is transient and death is a certainty. This reading is corroborated by the symbols that Kashink is using: the skull, the hourglass, the clock, the extinguished candle.
(2) The more modern meaning of the word ‘vanity’ points to a person being excessively in love with their own appearance. This reading again is proven true by the abundance of items placed in the mural which help to make a person prettier: make-up brushes, a lipstick, body sprays, gems and jewelry.
You got to read between the lines with Kashink! 😉
Artist: Strok (Anders Gjennestad)
Location: 20 Rue de la Glaciere (Street Art Paris 13)
Norwegian artist Strok mainly uses stencils based on his own black-and-white photographs as his favored modus operandi. The stencils are usually extremely detailed and Strok’s characters often completely defy the Laws of Physics as they are displayed doing hair-raising stunts, walking sidewise on walls and just generally mocking the concept of gravity. Strok does not exclusively work on the streets but has also quite successfully exhibited his work in galleries around Europe. He has currently chosen Berlin, Germany as his permanent home.
Artist: Philippe Baudelocque
Location: Passage du Moulin des Pres (Street Art Paris 13)
French artist Philippe Baudelocque’s specialty is to draw delicate portrayals of animals using white chalk and oil pastels. He often incorporates star constellations, galaxies and other cosmic phenomena in these works. Everything is connected by an intricate network of exquisite, fine lines and patterns. Coming from an artistic background – Philippe’s father is an artist himself – Philippe soaked up art naturally from an early age on.
Artist: Mireille Bailly-Coulange
Location: Passage du Moulin des Pres (Street Art Paris 13)
This piece in the Butte-aux-Cailles neighborhood is by French artist Mireille Bailly-Coulange. Born in Béziers, she has been working in Paris since 1966 and has her own art gallery at 26 Rue Bobillot in the 13th district. The artwork is captioned at the bottom as the ‘Dance of the Elements’. The beasts of water, air and clay, represented by fish, eagle and snake have all come together in a whirlwind of flying limbs, centered by the flawless depiction of a nude female body.