Urban Art: a visual walk to 10 amazing and modern canvasses

urban art cover

On our way to work, or on our way home our eyes are used to encountering different urban art creations on the roads, metal shutters or walls.

Come take a walk with us in our recapping of street art history.

  • Urban art museums
  • Graffiti vs. Urban art
  • The origins

1-. Urban art definition

The term refers to complex texts or images created with several materials. Experienced graffiti writers and modern art artists do often include political or social aspects. The common characteristic of all urban art designs is their exposure to disappearance, due to its ephemeral nature.

1.1-. The streets taken as a live canvas.

Street city art
Urban art could be seen in either walls or pavements, with spray paint, chalk or crayons.

Did you know that there is a boom in the current urban art industry?

  • Graffiti writers
  • Mural artists
  • Graphic designers

Just as an example, who could imagine participating in an urban art tour 15 years ago? Even the tourism field joined the newest art trends.

1.2-. From Museums to the streets. Or viceversa?

Street art museum
Urban Nation is a free street art museum in Berlin, Germany.

Visiting a museum is usually one of the most popular activities to do as a traveller when visiting a new place for the first time. It makes sense, you have a big bunch of condensed art within the same place.

Thanks to a popular worldwide urban art industry, it seems as if you wouldn’t need to pay anymore for a ticket to go see art in an indoors venue.

1.3-. What’s the urban art’s main purpose?

urban art graffiti Madrid
‘Mind the wall’ is an outdoors local project run by Swinton & Grant, an urban art gallery in Madrid.

There are a couple of things we love about urban art:

  • Its rebellious nature and origins.
  • The freedom of speech it gives its representatives.

The feeling of somehow being able to express a thought in a place that we share with other people, reinforces a sense of community. Overall, it makes you feel better!

2-. Do people consider ‘urban art’- Graffiti?

Here is a quote we love from one of the world’s most famous artists Ben Eine “I get in trouble for graffiti, but I get paid for street Art”. 

Would it help you to understand and differentiate the two movements?

2.1-. Who’s behind the political graffiti movement?

graffiti letters
Social messages are easily recognized along your daily commutes.

People like you and me have been using illegal walls’ writing for different uses. One of them is to express a political thought. From “FREE XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX”, or political or institutional critique, to the basic idea of speaking up about something that worries you. 

At points, political graffiti might be visual and powerful.

May 68’ Paris riots were a golden moment for political graffiti. It evolved and now Banksy uses his pieces to talk about political situations, such as the now gone Brexit mural.

2.2-. Get to know me by my name. Pure graffiti.

graffiti tag
Quick throw-up painted over the metro wagons’ surface. Bigger pieces covering the whole convoy are called ‘Whole cars’.

One of the urban art’s expressions is directly linked to the personal desire of getting one’s name out there. It all started in the late 60’s with graffiti writers from New York and Philadelphia (United States) painting over train wagons.

It is still a very popular technique among artists from all over the world, from young teenagers to people with full time jobs and parents with little kids.

Did you know that for some artists it has become a lifetime obsession to paint in a weekly manner?

2.3-. What are the world’s most important Urban art festivals?

urban art in Montreal
City councils from all over the world are observing the great impact on tourism, and they contribute to the organization of street art festivals.

Modern day urban has an active presence in major capital cities around the different continents. It would be very difficult to mention all of them, but these are some of the most famous ones:

  • Upfest, Bristol (UK)
  • Art Basel, Wynwood walls, Miami (Florida)– United States
  • Montreal’s mural festival (Canada)

3-. The best open-air urban art museums to visit next 2020.

Discover now where should you head during your next holidays in Europe, because the scene is hot and many places worth to visit.

Check them out!

3.1-. Berlin, a classic on the graffiti scene

Urban art in Berlin Germany
A former telecommunications tower now hosts an incredible urban art museum that everybody interested in street art should visit if i visiting Berlin, Germany.

Ever heard of Teufelsberg?

A former Nazi military technical college, which after the War was easier to bury than demolish, now hosts an area full of street art.

Its fascinating history doesn’t stop after WWII as the second highest point in Berlin city hosted a Listening Station that the Americans use to spy over the DDR during the Cold War.

The place is now an modern art museum which features the work of renowned international street art artists.

3.2-. Lisbon, Europe’s 2020 graffiti capital city.

Vhils urban art
Vhils famous drill artworks can be observed by Lisbon’s seaside.

After several visits to Germany and Portugal in the past 3 years, we could affirm that the Portuguese capital city is becoming the most important graffiti related hotspot in Europe.

  • Avatar representations
  • Massive graffiti walls
  • Almost invisible stencil artworks

Urban art is everywhere by the southern side of the Atlantic Ocean. Artists such as Vhils, Bordalo II or Vile have decorated its streets for visitors’ amazement.

3.3.-.What’s the urban art Madrid like?

Urban art by Okudart in Madrid
Muros Tabacalera street art festival in Madrid. Picture taken by R2hox in 2018.

Spanish capital not only offers its visitors a delicious gastronomy, but also the opportunity to discover the local culture:

  • Community gardens
  • Street art festivals
  • Off the beaten districts
  • Urban art tours

Just a quick hint, do not forget to visit Lavapiés and Malasaña districts on your next trip, especially ‘Esta es una Plaza’ and ‘Arte al Cubo’ festival.

Cooltourspain’s opinion about the urban art industry

Art Basel, ARCO, Wynwood walls Miami… the urban art industry is observing as the number of events and fairs is increasing.

Cooltourspain supports local street art projects in Madrid and we believe that we have the opportunity to change the way culture is observed by the general audience.

The important thing is how to do it in a sustainable and responsible way!

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