Banksy may have cornered the street art chatter in 2013, but this year was all about the many other artists claiming their spot in the limelight. From Los Angeles to Afghanistan, guerrilla artists across the world proved there’s no public canvas quite like a wall. Below, 21 of our favorite tags from 2014. 1. Blu: This is the year the Italian street artist Blu wrapped up his massive transformation of a building in Rome, turning 48 windows into Sphynx-like faces. Italian street artist ‘Blu’ climbs the facade of a former military barrack as he works on a graffiti piece in Rome on April 24, 2014. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images) 2. ROA: ROA headed …
Banksy may have cornered the street art chatter in 2013, but this year was all about the many other artists claiming their spot in the limelight. From Los Angeles to Afghanistan, guerrilla artists across the world proved there’s no public canvas quite like a wall. Below, 21 of our favorite tags from 2014.
1. Blu: This is the year the Italian street artist Blu wrapped up his massive transformation of a building in Rome, turning 48 windows into Sphynx-like faces.
2. ROA: ROA headed back to Europe this spring after a stint in New Zealand, to make this Italian building a little wilder.
3. Tellas: This Italian street artist took several days to carry off a hypnotic minimalist mural in the city of Undine as part of the Homepage Street Art Festival.
4. Miss Van: Born in France and based in Barcelona, Miss Van specializes in portraits that seem conjured from a different era. Her baroque “poupées” (French for dolls) are often hidden behind masks, an affectation she believes gives them an androgynous appeal.
5. FAITH 47: We love this galloping unicorn by South African artist FAITH 47, which turns an otherwise ordinary wall in the village of Erriadh, on the Tunisian island of Djerba, into a dreamscape.
6. Djerbahood: The unicorn made up a larger project, Djerbahood, which brought together dozens of female artists from around the world to transform Erriadh.
7. Graffiti in Athens: The Greek city became a new graffiti capital, as artists confronted the changing economics that make for an abundance of abandoned buildings, and provocative art.
8. Kelburn Castle: Based in Scotland, the castle makes our list for the sad fact that its wild makeover is set to revert to plain old thirteenth century stonework next year.
9. Inti: This April, the Chilean graffiti artist Inti gave us all the gift we didn’t know we badly needed: a giant Don Quixote mural in Quintanar de la Orden, Spain.
10. Shamsia Hassani: This female artist emerged as one of the unlikeliest street art stars of the year. A fine arts lecturer of Afghani descent, Hassani tags the streets of Kabul with her signature depictions of creative women.
11. Skidrobot: The artist known as Skidrobot turned out some of the simplest and most profound work we’ve seen all year. Working anonymously, he paints poignant backdrops behind the homeless people who make their home on the streets of Los Angeles.
12. Small Business Saturday Street Art: To promote the “shop small” message of Small Business Saturday, Chicago-based street artist Hebru Brantley enlisted artists across the country to design appropriate graffiti. Our favorites turned up in Washington D.C. and Miami, murals featuring a girl and a boy respectively, both exuberant in their own ways.
13. Women Are Heroes: Since 2007, French street artist JR has turned the concept of the male gaze on its head with his global public project “Women are Heroes,” pasting images of real women’s faces and eyes on train cars and abandoned buildings around the world.
14. Strook: This spring, the Belgium-based artist Stefaan De Croock, aka Strook, highlighted the beauty of basic materials with his short film “Wood & Paint,” chronicling a romance between recycled wood and spray paint.
15. Boa Mistura: The Madrid-based artist collective proved the power of a bright coat of paint when the team tackled more than 30 buildings off a highway in the working class town of Querétaro, México. This was technically a 2013 moment, but their work lived on into 2014.
16. Street Stories: One of the year’s most compelling campaigns, “Street Stories” tasked U.K.-based artists with telling the actual stories of homeless British teens.
17. Leon Keer: Keer spoke directly to our inner 10-year-old with “Space Invaders,” a 3D take on the classic Atari video game.
18. Splash: A collaboration between Fin DAC and Angelina Christina, “Splash” aptly added a splash of female badassery to the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
19. Maya Hayuk: The legendary Bowery Wall got a fresh coat of paint this year when Maya Hayuk, a Brooklyn-based artist known for her Ukrainian craft-inspired prints, was tapped to put her mark on a site that’s hosted the work of a notably male crew for years now, including Keith Haring, Os Gemeos, Kenny Scharf and Shepard Fairey.
20. Fort Tilden: This winter, the experts at Brooklyn Street Art tipped us off to a series of startling anonymous works covering New York’s abandoned WWI military base, Fort Tilden.
21. Pejac: Another BSA find was this update on an Impressionist classic, by the Spanish artist Pejac, who painted a corroded ship hull off northern Spain to resemble the Monet painting, ‘Impression, Sunrise.”
Pejac. “Impression (Sunset)” Santander, Spain. Summer 2014. (photo © Maximiliano Ruiz)
BONUS: The street artist Swoon hosting a major show at the Brooklyn Museum.