Sunday, September 26, 2010

Buenos Aires it art?

Last fall, I visited for the first time Buenos Aires. The city of music, dance, political passion, contrasts...referred to as Paris of South America.

While I would argue that there is no comparison to Paris, I fell head over heals for the city... It was love at first sight. I embraced it all, the decrepit beauty of a once glamorous past, the heat, the smells, the gardens, the people, their elegance and fun loving attitude.

This post, however is not about Buenos aires, that post will follow. This is about the extraordinary graffiti painted on the street walls of Buenos Aires, especially in La Boca. La Boca district is geared to tourism with its bright houses, tango dancers and is a fun animated area. Being told by my taxi driver, not to venture inside the district but to stick to the open plaza, I was of course, intrigued to do just the opposite. After passing a few houses, I felt I entered a no man's land. You could feel the vibes of desolation, a couple of women stopped my husband and I and warned us not to walk any further as it was extremely dangerous with thieves and criminals abound. What I saw startled me, the most amazing graffiti in vivid color. I was enthralled by their composition and their message.

Looking at some contemporary artists (which i will not mention as I would never want to compromise the respected value of their art), there is such a fine line between the artistry of the street artist, often angry, abused, hungry and the picture hanging on the walls of the world's most important museums.

Entrance to the rough part of La Boca

The furniture design world also embraces the graffitis artform as  illustrated below.
 Indeed, for my new Amara furniture collection event (on October 7th) I am planning to paint a mural with primitive african patterns.

AD#87 Campana sofa, Edra

AD#87 Armchair designed by Franco Albibi and Franca Helg for Cassina

AD #87 sofa designed by Ron Arad for Moroso

AD#87 sofa Sebastobal , Mise en Demeures France

AD # 87 Design by Gaetano Pesce, B and B Italia

For us living in New York, we are quite familiar with the graffitis covering walls, bridges, tunnels..Some young artists at heart endanger their lives by spray painting on gravity defying  spots, especially on bridges...we see it all, rude graffiti, gangs marking their territories, and the occasional surreal beautiful and artistic graffiti. How do you feel about graffiti? do you view them as destruction of public properties or as a scream for help, as an expression of one's deep feeling and artistry?


  1. What a magnificent post Francine. You & your husband were very brave to even venture that far into the La Boca. The graffiti is so interesting & my favorite is the first photo. I do find graffiti as destruction of public property but I have compassion for those artists. You can't help but feel their cry out for being understood; their passion and yes, their artistic talents.
    I love your idea of have a mural done for your Nov. 7th event. Very clever idea. I fell in love with the furniture against the graffiti walls. Makes for startling, urban effect. Big fan of AD#87 sofa Sebastobal, gorgeous.

    Wishing you all a good Sunday and a great week.
    xo Deb

  2. Hi Francine,
    Well, I love it.... I guess that we are used to it in London and have Banksy to thank for that. His work is amazing and is now worth millions.
    I kmow what Deb means about it being a destruction of public property but, if it is controlled, can make some of the run down parts of a city a little more beautiful. There are two sides to it I guess. XXXX

  3. For some reason I like graffiti. It makes me happy sometimes with its colorful expression of what could be a sad feeling if I can say so.
    It is beginning to pop up in Amman Jordan where I live and I do feel ok with it even though it does affect public property, but I guess like any art form it is an expression part of the cultural make up of a city.

  4. Francine,
    To each his own. I think it is crazy madness and rage. Boy you never see it in Russia, the subway had chandeliers and spotless. Clean people. I always wanted to go to Buenos Aires, how was it?


  5. Such an interesting post. I am always intrigued by truly talented artists who do this and then beyond sad when I see it done destructive ways.

  6. Jean-Michel Basquiat represents the best of graffiti art (Film Festival is starting soon in Vancouver and I can't wait to se a documentary on him). Others are just destroying the beauty of a city and creating a visual mess, I would call it vandalism.

  7. i am not a hug fan of graffiti, but appreciate the artist ...i read yr comment and had to ask... where was your bakery in boston? i lived there for years... when were you there? name of your bakery??? i am so intrigued! xx

  8. Graffiti began as a form of artistic expression -it celebrates the journey of the Modern Pop Culture, but Graffiti has been around since ancient times actaully. This is just a modern take on the ancient greek version. I do think that Rock and Roll and the Modern Day Graffiti goes hand in hand.

  9. Art! That first image is, without doubt, art. It's gorgeous. Like the other comments above, graffiti can be simultaneously destructive, offensive, and utterly beautiful.

  10. It sounds amazing! And it looks so inspiring! All that grafitti would just make me twitch to get back to the office and start creating!

  11. What a fabulous post! I am not a fan of grafitti in public spaces, however sometimes I feel that the artists who create the various pieces probably take ownership of their community...perhaps making it a better place to live?

  12. A thought provoking post today. I think graffiti is a cultural message. Art is art, whether it's on the side of a building or in a museum. I won't deny that it frustrates me to see a park bench or business store front with randome scribbles on it..It's disprespectfu. But I couldn't imagine a city without the colourful musings of street artists.

    Have a great weekend Francine.

  13. It's another form of art, and the first hotel I stayed at in Paris was directly across from a really artistic grafitti just added to the experience. Part of the art does seem to rub the grain of some the wrong way...I may feel this way too, if it was my storefront!


  14. Hello Francine,

    Until I met my boyfriend, I actually didn't give it a thought. I didn't feel here or there about it -- he has educated me on the artistry of the markings. I have a new respect for these artists and their skill -- not many people can do what they do, and it is important to appreciate it. On the other hand, I think it is important to keep it within certain territory -- not on a storefront of fence of a home. I don't mind it on trains, bridges, etc. though. I loved your story, Francine -- I probably would have been quite frightened, but at the same time, also intrigued.

    I hope you are having a wonderful weekend,

  15. Very thought provoking post! Graffiti like most art forms is so subjective...I think its ugly and destructive and/or beautiful and amazing all depending on the location, the style and probably even my own mood...great photos, really enjoyed this!

  16. Theres something to be said for graffiti...your post reminds me of Belfast,N.Ireland where graffiti portrays the troubles of the past as a constant all means something to someone! Hope you are well,Chrissy

  17. the desire to create,express- Art-something born of that has to be considered So. It just has to provoke-and this does. move some of these into a gallery full of canvas and things might look different, as it is-the walls of the world are a canvas and artists are everywhere. Fantastic exploration on many levels.

  18. I too love taking pictures of graffiti when I am travelling as it is really tells the story of the socio-economic and political climate of the area. But when I get home, I may be a bit of a snob, but I hate, hate, hate to see graffiti on the beautiful streets and buildings of my city. We have very good anti-graffiti policies in Vancouver. As soon as it goes up, a truck and crew is there removing it. We do have areas that are dedicated to graffiti which are very creative and expressive and have their own story to tell. Good post Francine!

  19. I believe art can be performed in many ways. Last year I travelled to Argentina and I had to rent an apartment in buenos aires which was next to a wall full of graffitis. At first, I didn´t like it, but then I got used to it and I started to admire it!
    I loved the city and its paintings!

  20. Francine this is a wonderful site. I love the use of color and the feeling of freedom in these graffiti walls.

  21. Thanks for sharing and letting us aware about this information.


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