When visiting many cities, it’s easy to think that the municipal government must have got a bargain price on boring grey paint. Consequently, street artists from around the world have taken it upon themselves to introduce a splash of colour to urban areas in dire need of a facelift.
Yet alongside an appetite for vibrancy, urban art also seeks to reflect the socio-economic factors that shape any city. For this reason, street art offers the ideal prism from which to view the issues and concerns that truly affect and concern the local populace.
So if you’re a traveller looking for an authentic taste of city life, here, in no particular order, are five brilliant holiday destinations for street art lovers.
Above: Street art that formed part of the Crono Project curated by Vhils. Image by Bosc d'Anjou
The Portuguese capital’s street art scene is world famous. And the main man responsible for this is Alexandre Farto, who is known internationally as Vhils. He has played a key role in transforming the city’s most rundown neighbourhoods, by inviting internationally renowned street artists to create huge murals across Lisbon.
The most impressive examples borne from this project live in the area that surrounds Picoas Metro Station. However, the spiralling streets of Alfama and the Lisbon waterfront are also home to some of the finest street art that Europe has to offer.
Above: Part of the East Side Gallery, which covers the old Berlin Wall. Image by SarahTz
Arguably, Berlin is the street art capital of Europe. Throughout the city, you will find examples of striking urban art everywhere – from doorways and walls to the sides of houses. However, there are a handful of areas within the city where street artists have essentially ‘taken over’.
Kreuzberg is Berlin’s unofficial centre point for all things bohemian, and boasts a veritable bounty of street art masterpieces. Meanwhile, Berlin’s legendary East Wall Gallery covers around half a mile of what was once the Berlin Wall. Here you will find a myriad of politically-driven paintings that represent freedom and hope, at the same time as providing a reminder of Germany’s turbulent past.
Above: Three murals from Brick Lane, London. Image by Loco Steve
You don’t need a passport in order to experience the world’s best metropolitan murals. This is because a simple jaunt to our capital city can provide all the graffiti-based gratification you’ll need.
A great place to start is next to Waterloo station, where there’s an authorised art tunnel that provides an ideal appetiser to the street art movement that has engulfed the city. After that, you should check out Brick Lane, where some of the planet’s best purveyors of urban art – such as Banksy and Ben Eine – have left their mark.
Above: Eduardo Kobra street art on the west side of Manhattan, New York City. Image by Nan Palmero
For street art, the Big Apple is where it all began. Thus, every self-respecting street artist that has ever held a can of spray paint in anger has, at some point, left their mark in the city that never sleeps. However, the more free-spirited areas of Greenpoint and Bushwicke are where you will find the most surreal designs.
As the popularity of street art has grown, city planners have generally become more accommodating of guerrilla artists. Therefore, New York is now home to a huge number of tours that will ensure you won’t miss the best urban murals the city has to offer.
Above: Urban art at Calle Del Embudo - Bogota, Colombia. Image by Ricardo Quintero
Columbia and Bogota’s tumultuous history and current state of political unrest provides inspiration for some of the world’s most vibrant and diverse street art. Conveying messages of civil war and institutionalised corruption, the city’s most remarkable murals are as volatile as they are beautiful.
Without a doubt, the best way to experience and understand the work of Bogota’s various artists is to take the free graffiti walking tour. This starts at the heart of the city, at 10am, every day.
However, Bogota’s biggest breakthrough artist is StinkFish, who now sells canvases of his work for huge amounts of money and produces commissioned pieces around the world.
Fancy owning a piece of street art-inspired artwork to hang in your home or office? Then simply visit the ArtGallery.co.uk homepage and use the search tool on the right to find urban art to match your taste and budget.