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Street Legal Art (for a few days)

Mural by Bustart

What a fine week it was for street art in Paris. The equivalent of, if not Woodstock, at least 1967's Monterey Pop Festival.

Last week, Paris Play joined the organizations Alternative Paris and My Life on My Bike to provide wall-to-wall coverage of the four-day long urban art exhibition featuring the work of fifty street artists from all over the world, organized by Le M.U.R. de L'Art. The documentary crew of six (including Richard, and our nephew, Jonathan Edwards) shot photographs and conducted thirty-five videotaped artist interviews in ninety-six hours, with the eventual goal of producing a documentary about this effervescent scene.



Le M.U.R. de L'Art was founded in 2007, and serves as a legal, aboveground, as it were, gallery for street artists. To make a long story short (you can read the long version here), street artists began hijacking billboards here in Paris in the early 2000s, replacing advertising with street art. Finally, one billboard company simply gave up the fight for one piece of turf, and donated its ground-level billboard on rue Oberkampf to the community. Hence, Le M.U.R., which presents a different artists' work made on that billboard every two weeks, to celebrate both street art and its ephemeral nature. If you miss that fortnight's work, it's gone.

But here's where relationships get strange. Le M.U.R. gives each artist €500 to create his or her piece, a stipend provided by the City of Paris. And this four-day exhibition was supported by the City, in a city arts center in the Marais. So, while much of the art we are so fond of photographing and showing you here on Paris Play is illegal, and artists can be fined and jailed for putting it up, detente exists, though some artists do not want their photographs published. Nonetheless, it was great fun putting faces to many of the names whose work we've admired for the last few years.


Kashink with her sculpture, "Cash Cow"  

Each of the fifty artists who exhibited last week in this benefit for Le M.U.R. had previously been featured on a billboard. Some, like Jérome Mesnager, Mosko and Associates, Speedy Graphito, and Gérard Zlotykamien are the equivalent of O.G.s (original gangstas) on the street, and have already been the subject of books, museum catalogs, and have their work in contemporary art museums and galleries, selling for thousands of euros apiece. Others, many of them women, have been in the game for a lot less time, but their work is of a high enough quality that it rivals that found in the formal galleries in the Marais and St. Germain des Pres, and is often more interesting. 

And since the work, by artists from as far away as Chile, Argentina, Canada, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia, speaks for itself, we'll be quiet and let you enjoy. If you like a name, Google it for more examples; just about everybody has a Website or Facebook page. And Le M.U.R is a non-profit, which welcomes your support.


Jérome Mesnager




Mosko et Associes

Gérard Laux of Mosko et Associes, surrounded by the staff of Graffiti Art magazine





Speedy Graphito
























Thom Thom

Thom Thom (Thomas Schmitt) is co-founder of Le M.U.R.





Ella & Pitr















Mural by FKDL (left) and Stoul (right)










Le Cyklop







Teaching his son how to mix paint





Jana and JS



















Surfil with Alternative Paris' Demian Smith











H101 and Zosen









Rue Meurt d'Art





Kenor teaching a fan




No Rules Corp












Michael Beerens





If you've scrolled this far, thank you. And here's your surprise: links to the four two-minute or so videos the team produced each day of the event, as teasers for the eventual documentary. Video one, two, three, and four. Enjoy. 


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Reader Comments (22)

Fabulous art, and fabulous photographs. I can't wait to see the documentary.

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 20:55 | Unregistered Commenterjudith taylor

Thank you, Judith.

If you REALLY can't wait, we've added a treat for those who scroll all the way to the bottom of the post. Links to four two-minute-plus videos the team produced at the end of each day (some all-nighters happened) as teasers for the eventual documentary.


Many hugs,

Kaaren and Richard

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 23:01 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Hi Kaaren and Richard,

I thoroughly enjoyed this! Wonderful interviews with the artists, and I loved seeing their art. Fabulous documentary film. I will share with my friends.


Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 0:58 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie Carroll

The photos and the videos are great -- I especially like seeing the actual process of creation going on. The artists have to live, of course, but on the other hand I hate to see this kind of output becoming only made for commercial limited consumption. Street art means it belongs to everyone.

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 1:10 | Unregistered CommenterVarya

Dear K & R:

Didn't make it to the videos but loved the vitality of the art and the scene. So where's the book?

All the best,


Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 1:32 | Unregistered CommenterMike Larsen

absolutely loved this !! amazing art and even better photos-- love the way you, Richard, capture faces ! how I would love to be able to do this

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 16:24 | Unregistered CommenterBetsy Storey


Thank you. DO share, please. These are some of the most talented and creative folks we know, and we'd love to see them get worldwide attention.


Kaaren and Richard

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 17:48 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Dear Varya:

There are so many ideas/contradictions about the whole process. Legal/illegal. Private collectors/mass consumption. Giving the gift/"selling-out." Art for the people/art for corporations. Is self-marketing an ego-trip, or a career-builder? What constitutes a career? Context: Does street art change when it becomes gallery art?

The documentary will examine these questions in much more depth than we can here, and in the voices of the artists themselves.

We went to another exhibition last night, much smaller (and will post some of the pictures to Richard's Facebook page tonight), in a 20th arrondissement squat that featured 31 street artists working on the themes of equal sexual/political rights, and anti-AIDS. Same artists we see on the streets, same radical political themes, but the art was hung as in a gallery, and was for sale.

The answers aren't as easy as they appeared to be in the 60s.

Much love on your travels,

Kaaren and Richard

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 17:59 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Dear Michael:

I wish we would have had time to take you and Elizabeth to a bookstore while you were here. TONS of books on the movement, and more titles arriving daily.


--R and K

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 18:01 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban


Thank you.

The secret is to be really annoying and shoot 473 frames of each person. Then pick the best to publish, and everyone thinks you have a genius.

Oh, also pick people with interesting faces.

Again, thank you,

Richard (and Kaaren)

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 18:03 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Dear Kaaren & Richard,

Love this post so!!! I'm a big fan of street art (as opposed to tagging, frankly), and in L.A. we're lucky to have some truly gifted artists working. But Paris takes it to another level, as we've so often seen from Richard's photos of street art in other posts. And here, at this gathering, the range of aesthetics and artists is wonderful, and it's especially great to see so many women artists among them. Richard, I love your portraits of each of these artists... their humanity so beautifully captured. And also loved seeing several of them working with kids... how inspiring!

And, Kaaren, I was shocked and impressed that the billboard company gave in and donated the ad space. I cannot *imagine* that happening in the U.S. (And also that the City of Paris lends its support, too...) It is so heartening to see such respect for artists outside the traditional museums.

On my way now to check out the videos!


Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 23:15 | Unregistered Commenterdawna


Thank you, thank you.

It's a GREAT community of artists, and you are spot on about the diversity in style and in humans. We were delighted with the number of women artists, and have some great photos of girls giving their rapt attention to women making art. They will grow up thinking, "Hey, I can do that!" No glass ceiling!

Enjoy the videos. (By a woman director/cinematographer/editor, helped out by some guys.)

Much love,

Richard and Kaaren

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 23:26 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

So fabulous. I don't know zippedeehdoodah about art, but I adore "good" street art (maybe that's why!), and I watched the videos, and I definitely look forward to more. They were lit and framed beautifully. Re the photos, Richard, again, you've found your world and your mettle. Kaaren, what can I say? You are altogether wise.

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 23:46 | Unregistered CommenterAnna


Aw, shucks.


--R & K

Monday, November 19, 2012 at 0:26 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Such energy d'art...

...and well captured, Richard!

Monday, November 19, 2012 at 6:29 | Unregistered CommenterScott

Loved this! Thanks so much!

Monday, November 19, 2012 at 10:37 | Unregistered CommenterJoan


Energy, oui! Merci.

--R and K

Monday, November 19, 2012 at 12:32 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Joan, thank you. The love was infectious. We just captured people following their bliss, and had a blissful time doing so.


Kaaren and Richard

Monday, November 19, 2012 at 12:34 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

What a terrific show to see and document in stills and video!! Jonathan, you rock buddy. Keep us posted on more of the Paris art scene. Love you three.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 5:07 | Unregistered CommenterJny

Beautiful portraits!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 21:48 | Unregistered CommenterDudy

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