An Ever Changing Landscape of Contemporary Talent
Graffiti seems to have appeared in Philadelphia for the first time in the early sixties, reaching New York by the late sixties. The history of this art form, however, can be traced back to the first appearance of drawings in caves, where the walls were used as blank canvases for creation. Today street art and artists have achieved international fame by producing complex works often rich with political and social remarks and purpose.
The city of Rome is one of the most interesting destinations for street art. The range of work in the city is ever growing, from established works that have been in the city for many years, to new works that materialize overnight in various parts of town. The ancient and Eternal City, where time and the history of humanity has marked itself upon every corner of its walls, has now become one of the centers of contemporary and urban art. It is the first Italian city home to an influx of international artists such as Clemes Behr, Herbert Baglione, MOMO, and many Italian artists, more specifically Romans such as Alice Pasquini, Sten Lex, Augustine Lacurci, Jerico and Hitnes.
The excitement around street art in Rome has received such international attention that the city of Rome recently released a map of the Street Art in Rome and some street art itineraries, guiding visitors through their quest to find the most exhilarating art pieces scattered throughout the city, their slogan reading: Change perspective. The Street is your new museum. This route includes thirteen of the fifteen municipalities in Rome and covers over thirty neighborhoods ranging from central and historical ones such as Testaccio to more peripheral ones such as Tor Bella Monaca; there are over 150 streets listened and 330 works to be seen, the most noteworthy mentioned in this article.
The most famous of the street art experiences that you can have here in Rome is the MURO walking tour in Quadraro. This working class neighborhood gets all of its attention and visits thanks to MURO, the open air, free access Urban Art Museum of Rome. You can start your walking tour on Via dei Lentuli, where Diavù has painted Art Pollinates Quadraro. Another politically strong work here is the Nido di Vespe, Lucamaleonte that takes into account the German blitz that was conducted in April of 1944. One of the few works by a female artist Gio Pistone is painted over the entrance of the tunnel, a monster that guards the entrance, which separates Quadraro from the adjoining district. The tunnel’s exit is painted by Mr.Thoms, and depicts a gigantic mouth that sucks in everything around it. There is a larger corner wall painted by Jim Avignon, the Berlin/New York based artist and last but not least at the end of the tour you can make your way to the most popular and famous piece in MURO which is the work of Ron English entitled Temper Tot/Baby Hulk. If you are interested in having a guided tour you can book one for 10 euros. The tour is available in English.
Recognized as one of Rome’s art districts, San Lorenzo is home to students and street art; from Via dei Volsci to Via degli Enotri and a collective wall through Via degli Ausoni, there is much to be seen. It houses the works of many famous international street artists including a block-long mural by Alice Pasquini. This area is also home to the work of French artist Christian Guémy aka C215, the Italian artists SOLO, Unga, The Broken Fingaz Crew, and ABOVE a Californian, Berlin based artist who like Banksy has chosen to hide his identity. Despite being home to so many well known painters, the playful nature of San Lorenzo has made it into a fertile ground for Roman artists to constantly use its walls as their ever changing canvas.
Pigneto a once predominantly industrial area is full of street art. Street artists whose work can be found here are: Hogre, Hopnn, Alt Novesette aka Alt97, Uno, and #cancelletto# . What Pigneto is sometimes referred to is Home of Stencil, because of its famous painting of a couple in a tender embrace by Sten & Lex who are considered the pioneers of stencil graffiti due to their discovery of half-shade stencil technique. They have been creating work using this method since 2000 in the streets of Rome, London, Paris, Barcelona, and New York.
The Ostiense neighborhood is a modern and trendy district where contemporary and creative art is condensed with public art and street art; it holds more than thirty large public works and therefore has successfully embedded itself as part of the city’s cultural tourism. The space was initially conceived by gallery 999Contemporary to promote the area between the Piramide and San Paolo stations. It was successful at making its mark in 2010 through the Outdoor Urban Art Festival. It was during this time that JBRock painted the Wall of Fame on Via dei Magazzini Generali. There are works by Blu, Sten & Lex, Ozmo, C215, JB Rock, Kid Acne, Gaia, Borondo, Hitnes, and Lucamaleonte just to name a few. Street art in Ostiense has been legalized and therefore the walls of this zone are covered by astonishing pieces not to be missed.
Currently the spotlight is on another area, Tor Marancia, a popular neighborhood home to the working class and the last to be transformed beyond recognition by 20 international artists from 10 countries. There are as many as 20 monumental murals drawn on the buildings. This project too was conceived by 999Contemporary. These twenty murals are fourteen meters in length with a surface area of 155 square meters each. Diamond, Mr. Kleva and Moneyless, Seth and Philip Baudelocque, and Jaz are some of the street artists who participated in this venture for free. They were received with much affection by the 500 residents of Tor Marancia. Surreal animals, giant monsters, faces, super heroes all in a riot of colors, each telling a story, have transformed the walls of the popular housing to yet another open air museum, consequently creating another form of tourism accessible to everyone.
There is much to discover in many more neighborhoods in Rome, such as Testaccio, Centro Storico, and Trastevere, home to the works of artists such as Space Invader, Omino71, Mr.Klevra, Diamond, Uno, and David Diavù, all of which and more can be found through the guide and app created by the City of Rome entitled StreetArt Roma.