Street Art is a contemporary art movement that is also called Urban Art. Street Art is created in a public space, typically without official permission. It can encompass several media, which may include graffiti, stencil drawings, stickers, posters, video projections and light installations. Artalistic has rounded up a list of the top ten most emblematic works of street art.
Top 10 street art works that have left their mark in contemporary art history
1. Banksy: Little Girl with Balloon
The British street artist Banksy is, without a doubt, one of the world's most famous contemporary artists. His iconic pieces create a buzz each time they are discovered in public spaces either in London or other major cities. This street artist, whose identity remains unknown, is famous for this piece entitled Little Girl with Ballon, which he stenciled on the Waterloo Bridge in South Bank London in 2002. Banksy's antiauthoritarian art is witty, simple and carefully planned. If you want to learn more about this contemporary street artist feel free to check out our biographical blog article about this anonymous graffiti artist.
2. Keith Haring: We the Youth
Keith Haring's (1958-1990) lively figural and patterned imagery blended elements from Pop Art and Street Art. His work started drawing people's attention in the early 1980s when he created thousands of illegal chalk drawings in the New York City subways. Haring's signature style can be seen in one of his most famous works, We the Youth (1987), a mural covering the west face of a private row house in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The mural depicts dancing figures painted in primary colors outlined in black on a white background. The north facing section of the mural, painted on a fence, contains the words "We the Youth: City Kids of Phila + NYC". Haring's initials and the date are located at the bottom right of the mural.
3. Jef Aérosol: Hush!
Jef Aérosol - whose real name is Jean-François Perroy - is one of the pioneers of French Street Art. His work is highly renowned, including this giant stencil entitled Hush!, which was created in 2011. This iconic piece of Street Art is located in Paris near the Centre Pompidou not far from Saint-Merri church. In this self-portrait the artist asks you to take a moment of silence to calm yourself and breath despite the bustling city that surrounds you. Aérosol almost always includes a red arrow in his street art works. He uses them as a second signature but has never explained their meaning. Hush! was supposed to be destroyed in early 2014 but it was kept intact and is now an iconic piece of Parisian Street Art.
4. Miss. Tic: Muses et Hommes
Miss. Tic is a French poet and street artist. Her imaginative and witty stencils can be found in public spaces in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. Miss. Tic's work portrays a poetic universe that mixes lighthearted and serious topics to create thought-provoking pieces. This feminist stencil entitled Muses et Hommes was created in 2017. Miss. Tic's work can also be seen in galleries throughout Paris.
5. JR: Inside out/Time is now, Yalla!
JR is one of the leading contemporary French street artists. His work can be seen in public spaces in cities around the world. His work revolves around several central themes including, commitment, freedom and identity. The piece Inside out/Time is now, Yalla! was created in 2011. For this extensive, interactive piece Palestinians and Israelis were invited to have their portrait taken and were given a large-format black and white portrait that they could paste wherever they wanted. This piece urges for social justice and points to a solution that will bring peace and prosperity.
6. Invader: Space Invader
Franck Slama, AKA Invader is a French street artist specializing in mosaics that represent characters from video games form the 1970s and 80s. He began making mosaics in Paris in the 1990s and quickly “invaded” other cities in France and abroad. He enjoys placing his pieces in busy areas or locations that have cultural or historical importance. He has even placed his mosaic street art work on the Hollywood Sign!
7. Shepard Fairey: Obey
Shepard Fairey is a well known American contemporary street artist. Fairey creates stickers and posters that he places in public spaces. He emerged from the skateboarding scene and quickly became known for his graphic design and illustration work thanks to his piece Obey Giant. His iconic style is widely recognized and gained world-wide recognition during the 2008 U.S. Presidential election with his Barack Obama Hope poster.
8. iHeart: Nobody likes me
iHeart is a Canadian street artist whose work is just as enigmatic as Banksy's. iHeart uses graffiti to express his opinion on social issues using simple yet poignant imagery. He describes himself as being, “just a boy with ideas, opinions and a whole lot of aerosol.” His work can be found in major cities in Canada such as Vancouver and Calgary as well as other major cities around the world. This piece entitled Nobody Likes Me, highlights the negative influence social media has on the growing youth, it depicts a child crying because he has zero likes, mentions and followers on Instagram. Ironically this piece went viral on social media and was even shared by Banksy.
9. Thomas Vuille: M. Chat
Mr. Chat's famous yellow cats with ear-to-ear grins have appeared on the walls of cities across France since the late 90s. The Franco-Swiss street artist Thomas Vuille created this adorable character who is well-loved by the public but lesser-loved by the authorities who reproach him for vandalizing public spaces in France's major cities.
10. Eduardo Kobra: V-J Day in Times Square
Mixing tagging, graffiti, realism and graphic design, the Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra is world famous for his bold colors and larger-than-life street art works. His spectacular murals portray images that deal with topics such as memory, love and peace. This mural located in Times Square, New York takes a modern look at Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous photograph (V-J Day, August 14, 1945) of an American sailor kissing his lover on the day the United States celebrated its victory over Japan during the Second World War.
We hope that you enjoyed our selection of the most famous pieces of contemporary street art. Feel free to check out the rest of our site – Artalistic is a renowned online platform that specializes in purchasing and selling contemporary fine art. You can have paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and limited editions delivered to your doorstep in just a few clicks. If you are a contemporary artist we can also help you create a portfolio of your work. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Our team of experts is ready to give you the personalized assistance you deserve!