Street Art Tours in Paris
Street art tours by Underground Paris are not Art History graduate-led museum walks around ethnic neighbourhoods…
Although, yes, we do know our art history, we do take our guests around ethnic neighbourhoods, and, well, we’ve been to university… we also ‘get’ graffiti, and tags, and that knowledge comes from the artists, and from the streets.
We understand that tagging isn’t why people join our tours: usually, they’ve seen art by Banksy (and even watched the Banksy movie), they know Shepard Fairey and Obey Giant campaign (but generally as a fashion brand!). They probably know or have seen work from Paris’ most iconic street artist, Space Invader, and his mosaic pixel art. Some of our guests are also familiar with TED Prize winner, JR, and his photographic portraits on the separation wall in Israel-Palestine, the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, or his work in Cuba with Jose Parla. However, these artists represent a minority within the street art and graffiti movement. So, people come on our street art tours for a variety of reasons, but by and large, our guests are interested in just that, publically valued street art (by this, we mean the uncommissioned stuff that isn’t ‘graffiti’).
However, as much as the people who join our street art tours in Paris want just to see street art, and not look at tags, usually they come with very little a priori knowledge of street art, nor graffiti, and so, this is why we feel it’s so important that we give them some background on the street art movement, and not shrug off the graffiti tagging. Banksy may be as famous today as Andy Warhol, but he started out graffiti tagging. Also, we consider it impossible to discuss the current movement and tendencies without understanding how it came to be. Indeed, before the term ‘Street Art’ became widespread during the 80’s, every piece in the streets was called graffiti.
Art history is present in graffiti and street art and it’s important stuff, but, we feel it’s also important to know the history of graffiti and how books and movies marketed a sub culture which in fact distorted its authenticity, making kids in Europe and other parts of the world believe graffiti was, and still is, merely a synonym for Hip Hop. Understanding the origins of graffiti tagging, even if it’s what people often fear and find unattractive, while usually knowing very little about its stylistic conventions or the culture, helps break down these stereotypes, helping our guests see past the scribble on a wall and understanding what lies under the ink: the act. More specifically, we want our guests to be able to make sense of these words: graffiti, street art, urban art, tagging, and understand the particular dynamic that brings them all together.
What we do on our street art tours, here in Paris, is show people beautiful art, as well as explain and show them a bit about graffiti, but more importantly, we ask questions – some we don’t even have definite answers to. All this in order that you come away with a deeper understanding of the street art scene, about how the larger street art puzzle fits together, and a new found curiosity, questioning your relationship to your own environment.
To reserve your place go to our bookings page.