When Street Art & Classical Art Collide!
Classical Art & Street Art: A Beautiful Combination
Street art has always been a very wide umbrella term for art that is presented or created in the urban environment (or ‘the streets’).
Although many people argue over what truly defines ‘street art’ and what types or styles of art can truly be represented by this title, as a general, people (or let’s say, the general public) refer to any sort of obvious artwork in the street as ‘street art‘. And so it’s this title, and movement, that has found a huge increase in popularity and followers in the last few years than ever before.
With the increased interest comes more support, encouragement and appreciation for artists to experiment and push the boundaries of art in the urban space. As the years go on and the various styles within street art develop and flourish into evermore highly-technical masterpieces, the general public and art fans alike are seeing it less as vandalism and more as a legitimate artistic movement.
As street art becomes more accepted and more experimental, various classical art styles have mixed with the traditional street art found in the streets; a mix of ‘urban’ and ‘classical’ art creating work so skilled and technically advanced that it is becoming more and more difficult for anyone to class street art as ‘vandalism’.
I see the similarities between the classical art styles and the newer, more experimental mediums in street art on a daily basis and I’ve written about it on here before. The interweaving of geometric, abstract, cubist, portrait, surrealist and pop art styles (amongst countless others) is something I watch on a daily basis in wonder.
How can the classic styles and masterpieces found in famous galleries such as the Louvre in Paris or the Belvedere in Vienna combine with street art to create pieces that are of a classic style but presented in a modern, urban form?
It’s amazing and exciting, and I bet the old masters such as Klimt, Picasso and Monet could never have predicted such a thing would happen. But it is, and it’s happening right in front of our eyes!
The rebirth of classical art but in a modern form we can really begin to relate to (possibly more than we can to a hundred-year old painting in a sophisticated gallery somewhere).
So here are a few pieces and artists I’ve found with obvious classical art influences (mainly Renaissance-style) – the rebirth of art history, just in a new form!
#1. Outings Project
Julien de Casabianca noticed that many portraits and figures shown in artworks in galleries were hardly appreciated, almost forgotten in the corners of rooms saturated with similar work. He wanted to give new life and attention to them.
How It Works:
“With our phone in our museum, we take picture of anonymous paintings. No one really watches them in their frames. Small. Secondary. Forgotten. Definitely anonymous. Almost dead.”
“We bring them back to life in the new world. We print the portraits and then stick them on the walls using paper glue and brush.”
Classical figures and portraits are taken out of the context of whitewashed gallery walls and instead pasted in the urban environment, to be seen and noticed by everyone who walks past.
It is the fact that these figures are presented in a completely different context to what they usually are that they get so much attention.
A piece that would usually be quickly passed upon by viewers in galleries with thousands of pieces to view is suddenly presented alone and in a totally contrasting environment. It is this that makes people stop and look; people from all walks of life, fulfilling various age brackets and stereotypes.
Julien believes that “art can revitalize cities only if citizens are directly connected, not only spectators”. It is this idea that has made him encourage other people to get involved, making the Outings Project a worldwide movement.
Classical figures presented in totally unexpected contexts and to viewers of all types means these beautiful figures are getting a different type of attention and love than they ever could in a gallery.
#2. Conor Harrington
Conor Harrington’s pieces are a perfect blend of modern and historical. His work consistently portrays realistic figures from the historical past, presented in a beautifully modern – and yet classic – abstract style.
Using fine art techniques but also incorporating that which he learnt through his graffiti art background, Conor creates multi-layer large-scale pieces in the urban environment, and also smaller pieces in more traditional media to be presented in galleries.
To me he is the perfect combination of classical and urban-style art. And his work is jaw-dropping.
I could write so much about his work and what he aims to portray, but I’ll let you interpret that for yourself (if you want to learn more, click the links below!).
#3. Pichi & Avo
Pichi & Avo are one of my favourite street art duos. I had the pleasure of watching one of their pieces being created at the Upfest Urban Paint Festival 2016 in Bristol, England and it was really amazing to see the development of the piece over the few days.
Their work is a beautiful, creative mixture of street art and classical art. The description on their website gives more justice to their work than I ever could, describing it as, “…the perfect deconstruction of classic art and contemporary urban art, in order to create a new fusion which whilst faithful to its classic heritage, creates a new and exciting vision of art“.
We are lucky to see such a unique and beautiful style flourish before us. Why?
Because the classic element of their work (borrowed from Ancient Greek & Roman architecture) could only be combined with graffiti and urban art in this time we live in (because graffiti and spray-paint-based street art is a much more modern style of art). Pre-19th century this type of work simply couldn’t exist. It’s awesome to be able to watch this style evolve!
Ancient Greek sculpture (like this one below!) + graffiti goodness = Pichi & Avo.
#4. Marco Battaligni
Like Pichi & Avo, Marco Battaligni is a wondrous mix of classical art and the more modern-day graffiti style.
Painted on a background of a graffiti-soaked urban environment are classical figures you would usually find in Renaissance-style art – ancient Greek gods and goddesses, regal figures and others – but with a twist.
Upon closer look, you notice many of them have been fused with a more modern aesthetic; piercings, tattoos… with the figures placed in urban environments that just wouldn’t be found in classical art.
Upon first glance it’s the graffiti backgrounds that capture your attention, but then the contrast between the modern urban style and the classical-style figures becomes so mesmerising that you end up looking a little longer than usual… which pulls you into noticing the finer details…
…and before you know it, you’re trapped in this amazing blend of two totally contrasting worlds.
#5. Kurt Wenner
I’ve featured Kurt Wenner before when writing about street artists who create amazing 3D pieces in the street.
His 3D pieces are painted in lots of different styles but it’s the classical-inspired art pieces that really stand out. I haven’t yet seen anyone else paint Renaissance-style art like he does in the street. Mesmerising!
** All photos copyright of the respective artists’ unless where stated otherwise**
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