The 13th has an impressive number of street art murals from artists around the world thanks to support from the local Mayor Jérôme Coumet who is keen to cover up some of the less interesting towers of the district with beautiful murals, and local galleries like Galerie Itinerrance and Lavo//matik who regularly feature these artists in shows. Last week I visited the vernissage at the Galerie Mathgoth for the street artist Christian Guémy, aka “C215” (pictured here). Titled “Perdus de Vue”, it features the stenciled portraits of homeless men and women, a subject that the artist felt very close to in his early years as an artist when he was close to living on the streets himself. There was a line going around the block to meet the artist and see the two dozen artworks of differing formats and materials. The exhibit is free and open through October 20th (Wed-Sat 2-7pm).
One of C215’s most well-known murals in the 13th is the large blue cat just outside metro Nationale (you can see it from the elevated line 6). On the right is another mural by the Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairey.
Across the street from C215’s cat is this new pop-art mural from the artist D_Face, completed in April this year.
Behind the 19th-century church on Place Jeanne d’Arc, the New York artist Logan Hicks was finishing up his mural.
On Rue Broca, where the 13th meets the 5th arrondissement under the Boulevard Port Royal, both sides of the tunnel have been decorated with whimsical murals by three street artists — Babs, Keyone and Socrome — illustrating Pierre Gripari’s much-loved children’s book from 1967 called “Les Contes de la Rue Broca”.
The murals were commissioned for Lézarts du Bièvre, a local artists cooperative for artists in the 5th and 13th districts around the now-covered Bièvre River which once flowed past the Gobelins Tapestry Manufacture.
One block over on Rue Pascal, the same three artists decorated another tunnel running under the Boulevard Port Royal, with murals inspired by the Bièvre.
Not sure if there were ever any fish in the Bièvre (it was covered because it was basically an open sewer), but artistic license oblige…there’s also a very Star Wars looking vehicle in the mix.
On September 29th, one of the new squares in the 13th between Station F and the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand was christened Place Jean-Michel Basquiat, after the late New York street artist, in the presence of his family members and live hip hop musicians. There aren’t any murals in the square, but the new contemporary art gallery La Fab, part of Agnès b’s Galerie du Jour, will soon be opening in the large building on the north side.
If you’re interested in checking out some of the latest street art murals in the 13th, you can take the metro to Nationale, Quai de la Gare, or Bibliothèque and just wander the streets with your eyes up, you can’t miss them! However if you like to have a guide who can explain what you’re actually looking at (and make sure you don’t get lost or miss any of the good ones), book a tour with one of the local #ExploreParis guides who can recount all of the stories about the international street artists, the symbolism in their works, and even the history of French street art. I took a tour with Bénédicte (in the photo below), and learned a lot more about my own neighborhood and details about the street artists and their murals that I hadn’t known before.