Worlds Top Amazing Street Artists

In an anti-establishment movement that’s taking the art world by storm, 6 of the world’s most famous Street Artists whose work is intricately connected to the urban environment were commissioned to paint the iconic river façade of Tate Modern exterior walls with 45 foot (15 meter) high towering artworks for the first major public museum display of Street Art in London.
Work of Brazilian artist Nunca exhibited on the facade of the Tate Modern.

The collaborative artists include Blu from Bologna, Italy, the artist collective Faile from New York, JR from Paris, France, Nunca and Os Gemeos, both from Sao Paulo, Brazil and Sixeart from Barcelona, Spain, but works of the ever-elusive Banksy was nowhere to be seen.

Street Art at Tate Modern brings to the forefront a significant aspect of modern-day art practice and one that’s influenced acclaimed artists, including Basquiat and Picasso.

All 6 artists are represented in major collections around the world and regularly shown in gallery exhibitions but their work began in public urban spaces and remains indebted to Street Art and graffiti traditions.

JR from Paris, France.
Sixeart, JR and Faile.

Nunca said, “This is the most important exhibition I have done until now and it is making a lot of people out here think about the importance of the art that is done by artists that use the streets like another tool — the richness of it, the creativity of these artists and the position the institutions have.”

“It is the first time that the Tate Modern is using the outside walls of the building to do an exhibition, and it is the first time this institution is working with ‘Street Art’ too.”

Street Artist Blu
A street walking tour began May 23rd and runs through to August 25 2008. The first 4 days and nights will be packed with live events and performances including an interactive evening with experimental New York artists Graffiti Research Lab, re-facing Tate Modern with graffiti light projections.

‘Tate Studio’ is a free event with a spirited line up of street artists, bands and DJ’s encouraging young people to experiment and create their own digital street art in various forms such as projection art instantly scaled up and projected onto London’s largest modern art gallery, as well as drawing and sticker-layering. The event will include a temporary installation by Random International.

It runs Sunday to Thursday, 10:00 to 18:00, Friday and Saturday, 10:00 to 22:00 with last admission into exhibitions at 17:15 (Friday and Saturday 21:15). For more information on this program of events visit

After the Tate show, Os Gêmeos head to NYC for their show at Deitch, “Too Close Too Far.” opening June 26 2008.

Street Art versus Graffiti
Although the term Street Art has been used since the late 70’s, the work is in constant flux and difficult to categorize, but basically being more visual and engaging urban art in contrast to text-based graffiti and tagging.

Street Artist Blu.
Street Artist JR Photo Tate Modern
Absolutely anything goes — stencils, stickers, drawings, paintings and even projection videos on to buildings to create the artworks.

Artists who work in the street also work in studios and have exhibitions, simply enjoying the freedom of working in public with buildings and new audiences.

Banksy is probably the most famous street artist in the world today, but many popular artists living and working today began their careers working in a way that can be considered Street Art.

Street Artist Blu
Based in Bologna, Italy, Blu creates large-scale images of monsters, figures, death and inner workings of the human body, often involved in scenes of cruel or uncivilized acts with an appearance of cartoon creatures, or characters from Greek mythology.

Anti-MTV Day Bologna 2004 / Wall.
Anti-MTV Day Bologna 2004 / Wall.
Anti-MTV Day Bologna 2004 / Wall.

Blu aspires to transform ordinary decaying places into beautiful and interesting environments.

The artist sees buildings as ‘sheets of paper’ to sketch on as well as many traditional painting techniques using a very limited palette. “I use paint just to fill in the drawing.” he says.

Due to their massive scale, his works often give the impression that the buildings they’re painted on aren’t quite large enough. The work is performed in 2 stages — he first draws images in his sketch book but when he goes to work on the walls themselves he often improvises with something entirely different.

Street Parade Bologna 2005.
Street Parade Bologna 2005.
Street Parade Bologna 2005. Photo Blu

His influences include underground and independent comic-book artists such as Robert Crumb, but he’s also inspired by the fresco tradition of his native Italy and the work of Gordon Matta-Clark.

As Blu says, “The way Matta-Clark used the building as a sculpture; it’s something I try to imitate when I paint.”

Backjump 2007.
Backjump 2007.

Blue, Ericail Cain and Lizarines.
Double Shutter.

Ericail Cain and Blu in Prato.
Ericail Cain and Blu in Prato.
Ericail Cain and Blu in London.
EX TPO Bologna.
Crash! 2007 / Ericail Cain and Blu.

Ericail Cain, Blu, Dem and Run.
Street Artist JR
Beginning on the streets of Paris, using only his initials because of the illegal nature of his work, photographer JR is driven by a strong political and social motivation.

Known for pasting large-scale photographs of people in public spaces, his work often features dramatic close-range black and white portraits of young people which, when fixed in particular areas, provide political meaning.

“The street provides me with the support, the wall, the atmosphere, but especially the people. Depending on where I put the photo, the whole thing changes.” he says.

For one project, JR created portraits of ghetto inhabitants pasted in the suburbs of Paris which had become more affluent — the scene of riots in recent years — on the walls in the city centre.

In doing so, he aims to provoke and question the social and media-led representations of such events. JR’s work often challenges widely held preconceptions and oversimplified complex images propagated by advertising and the media.

FACE 2 FACE in Geneva for the International FIlm Festival for Human Rights. Film projection of FACES.
Face 2 Face, Geneve - collage sur le Musee Rath.
Face 2 Face, Geneve - avec le Sheikh Aziz dans la nacelle.
During a recent project in Israel and Palestine he photographed individuals living in embattled locations to reveal the human side of conflict.

His work with Palestinian and Israeli citizens explored the similarities of their daily lives, rather than focusing on the ever-present divide, highlighting fundamental human emotions. Israelis and Palestinians doing the same job — taxi drivers, teachers and cooks, etc — agreed to be photographed crying, laughing, shouting and making faces.

Their portraits were posted face-to-face, in huge formats in an unauthorized project, on both sides of the separation wall [security fence] and in several cities, demonstrating that art and laughter can challenge stereotypes.

For his new project about women in post-conflict situations and the Third World, JR has travelled to Sudan, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and plans to visit India, Asia and South America.

Action au Sierra Leone - Project WOMEN ARE HEROES.
Gare Central, Bruxelles - Belgique.
Women are Heroes, Bruxelles / projection vidéo Place de Brouckère.
Artist JR

Street Artists Faile
The artist collective Faile — Patrick Miller and Patrick McNeil — from New York, formed in 1998, take inspiration from the debris of city walls, which often includes deteriorating advertising and flyposting to present their own take on traditional comic book imagery.

Their instantly recognizable pop culture images are seen in large-scale canvas works, representing a rich collage of urban experience have allowed them to diversify into other areas including sculpture, design, music and bookmaking, but their work remains heavily influenced from printmaking and stenciling traditions.

The pair met as teenagers in Arizona, but they teamed up in 1999 and have become known as Faile — pronounced “fail”, an anagram of an earlier name, ALife. They began by splashing their 1950’s styled paper images on city streets, and went on to making a living plastering them on everything from canvases to clothing.

Their first projects on the street were titled ‘A Life,’ for which their name Faile was an anagram. The name was also a recognition of the inevitable process of deterioration that an artwork suffered when exposed to the elements.

Street Artist Nunca
Nunca, Portuguese for Never, began writing graffiti and pichação — a uniquely Brazilian form of tagging — on the streets of São Paulo when he was 12. His work progressed into a more pictorial form of communication with color and style of geometric patterns that strongly evokes the ancient traditions and culture of South America.

“I like to look more to indigenous art, because for me the Brazilians still have something of the Indians, in the culture, in the blood.” he says.

By placing images of native rural people within the urban context of Sao Paulo in contemporary settings such as motorway underpasses, his work reflects the history and inner character of the Brazilian people, creating a dialogue between ancient and modern times.

Frequently improvised, Nunca’s works on the street reflect what he sees as Brazilian people fighting for survival in the modern metropolis. The faces he portrays are based on the populace he sees while walking through the city.

Created with spray paint or acrylic, they often have the appearance of ancient woodcuts or etchings. “This was the first way of depicting people when the conquerors came here.” Nunca explains.

His use of dark red ochre similarly relates to the urucum (a red pigment) used by some Brazilian tribes people to paint their faces and bodies in ritual.

His work also includes carvings, installations, sculpture and works on canvas.

Graffiti Project on Kelburn Castle

Street Artists Os Gêmeos
Os Gêmeos — Portuguese for The Twins, Sao Paulo — are twin brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo who began painting graffiti in 1987 and came to be a major influence in the local scene helping to define Brazil’s own style. Their work is now equally at home in the museums and biennales of the world as it is on the streets of their hometown, Cambuci, in São Paulo.

Their dream-like subjects — frequently portrayed in a distinctive bright yellow — range from family portraits to commentary on Sao Paulo’s social and political circumstances as well as Brazilian folklore.

“When we dream, everything we dream has yellow tones.” Gustavo Pandolfo says. “This is something of ours, myself and my brother. We use it in our painting. We can’t use another color. We have to use yellow.”

While maintaining many traditions of New York-style graffiti, Os Gêmeos bring a sense of lyricism and romanticism to their work.

“We wanted to try to break from tradition and make it different from graffiti that can be seen in Europe or the US,” Otávio Pandolfo says.

“We tried to search for more Brazilian roots, not just folklore or popular Brazilian culture, but something that myself and my brother always believed in, the world that we created.”

Artists Os Gêmeos
Street Artist Sixeart
Sixeart’s work is a fusion of psychedelic abstraction with comic book inspired figuration in a child-like innocence combined with a almost hallucinogenic sense of second sight. He defines his unique style as “Sinister tragicomedy with notes of psychopathology and touches of acid.”

In addition to his large-scale surrealistic street paintings, Sixeart makes sculpture, screen prints and works on canvas.

Having painted from an early age, the native from Barcelona made a name for himself as a graffiti writer before developing his own highly personal visual language with a multitude of often repeated figures and animals.

“My own universe of characters comes from a happy childhood and a close contact with Mother Nature.” he says. “Also, I feel that that childish style of mine helps keep me younger.”

His work has been displayed in galleries, and he’s also collaborated with fashion designers to create clothing with his distinctive form of design.

Artist Sixeart

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