Photo by Gaetano Racit

The Revenant, by Vim, Catania, Italy.


Street Art + Cinema Project


by Stéphanie Martin Petit

I call myself a street art hunter.

Thanks to the use of digital cameras, tons of us have emerged during those last years and we are now hundreds of people taking pictures, wherever we find ourselves in the world, of pieces of urban art,  most of which are totally ephemeral and destined to be seen only for a short period of time. And, by collecting and sharing those pictures, our hobby is not just a hobby. It’s also a significant, and from my point of view, essential record of the history of urban contemporary art.

My first collection (and obsession) was focused on Barcelona shop shutters. I collected around 1500 pictures of them during the 10 years I lived in this amazing city, put up a couple of exhibitions, and in June 2015, published a book*.

Then I spent several months in Mexico City and took advantage of this free time to classify this collection by topics. I realized that I had quite a few that were referring to films and movie stars: for example, there was a portrait of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (1942), several images of Charles Chaplin, and even a stencil of two icons from the French Nouvelle Vague, François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Léaud, pasted in Gracia neighborhood by an unidentified artist.

In French, I’m what they call a cinéphile, a movie lover. And I also really enjoy observing how movie lovers share their passions with others and how passionate this relation can be for some of us. Great directors of films have made movies about filmmaking. Others are editing amazing video tributes and soundtracks lists, others are writing books and articles about it, and some of them are spraying their favorite scenes on the streets. And by doing so, move the big screen from a dark room to an open air setting.

The project Street Art + Cinema, born in 2013, is interested in how (and where) Urban Artists around the world are inspired and pay tribute to the so called “7th Art”. The main objective of this project is to collect, identify and archive any kind of urban art work found on the street, on big and smalls walls, on shop shutters, in small villages and big cities, and which have a direct connection with the history of motion pictures. It could be by representing a movie scene, or by hijacking one to create something new, or by portraying actresses, actor, director, music film composers, by quoting famous dialogues lines, etc…

The main objective of this project is to create a unique database that has never been looked at before. And this testimony, it is hoped, will be regarded as an incredible contemporary art heritage documenting the (brief) encounter of two major arts of this century.

Thanks to hundreds of artists and street photographers, as of September 2016, this database has accumulated 1487 pictures of Urban Art inspired by 360 films and  369 movie stars painted by  284 (identified) artists in 245 cities & 43 countries around the world.

Those pictures are shared every day on our social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.

This collection is an art journey, in hundreds of different locations, and also in space time.

You can cross the work of an artist who sprayed the famous moon from George Méliès’ film Le Voyage dans La Lune (1902), alongside a river in a village close to Nantes, in France; or a portrait of Leonardo di Caprio in The Revenant (2015) on a huge wall in Sicilia; Rita Hayworth with her legendary blue dress from Gilda (1946) on a wall of Montmartre in Paris;  Javier Bardem with his famous haircut from No Country for Old Men (2007) on a shop shutter in London, and revive the sensual kiss between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity (1954) in the center of Utrecht, Netherlands.

The number one movie most represented in the collection is, without surprise, Star Wars (1977). It is followed by The Dark Knight (2005/2008/2012), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and The Kid (1921).

Quentin Tarantino and Tim Burton are the two directors with the most films represented, followed by French director Jean-Luc Godard, British directors Charles Chaplin and Stanley Kubrick, American directors Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese and Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Charlie Chaplin in his tramp suit is the most represented movie star, followed by the most famous blonde of all times, Marilyn Monroe. Then come Audrey Hepburn, Johnny Depp, Clint Eastwood and Al Pacino. If American movie stars are mainly represented, we also find many portraits of French, Italian and Polish actresses and actors, several portraits of the German actress Marlene Dietrich, a couple of Cantinflas, the famous Mexican comedian, and also of the iconic Spanish actress Penelope Cruz.

The most prolific artists of this database are French: there is Flow, passionate about movies like The Big Lebowski (1998), The Godfather (1972) and Pulp Fiction (1994); Spray Yarps addicted to Dirty Harry; Paul Fayt, focuses on Rita Hayworth and the musical comedies of the ’40s, Zapata paying tribute to Ava Gardner or Cary Grant, Tian admirer of Polish actresses and Italian classics films, C215 and his amazing stencils of popular French cinema figures; Nice Art, mixing poetry and nostalgia of the classic era, and Žilda, French but living in Italy who did fabulous work on Pasolini’s films on the streets of Rome.

Btoy, a Catalan female artist, creates wonderful portraits of actresses of the ’20s, while Joy, a Canadian artist, plays with his urban environment to pay tribute to the most famous movies of the ’80s.

JPS and Gnasher are both British artists who loves horror movies and Akse P19 likes to portray the most terrifying characters, such as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

Note that many pieces of work are waiting to be identified.

And, where can you find all this amazing art? Mostly in Paris, London, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Rome and Lyon; but also in Berlin, Vancouver, New York, Nantes and Bayonne.

This project is growing everyday thanks to a large number of followers.

A new webpage has to be created though (I’m still looking for a webmaster with great ideas !) and a book will be released in spring.

Street Art

* Book “Barcelona Urban Art” – Monsa Publications