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The best street art in the world: 15 of the most mind-blowing murals

Cascais Street Art Tour, Portugal,

All over the world, street art has a long and colourful history as a means of both protest and celebration. Famous graffiti artists like Banksy, Lady Pink and Jean Michel Basquiat might have created canvas works that sell for millions, but the art movement itself is still grounded in the social and political concerns of locals, and going on a graffiti tour of a city can tell you as much about its culture as any guide book.

If you’re a fan of urban art, or just want to learn about some of the most famous pieces in the world, then check out this list of the best street art in the world!

1. The Flower Thrower – Banksy – The West Bank

Trying to choose between all the Banksy pieces for this list is near impossible, such is his range and influence. While his Girl with Balloon series in London is often seen as his most iconic work, The Flower Thrower is all the more special  thanks to its symbolic location and because it’s one-of-a-kind. If you only ever make the pilgrimage to see one Banksy piece in your life, it should be this one.

 

Banksy Flower Thrower West Bank

Image source:ZaBanker @ Wikimedia

2. Nelson Mandela Mural – Shepard Fairey – Johannesburg

Shepard Fairey’s long and illustrious career was built on his famous Obey campaign, but his profile shot into the stratosphere after he designed the famous Barack Obama ‘Hope’ posters. In 2014 he crafted this incredible mural in South Africa’s largest city, paying homage to their most famous leader. It might not have the subversive attitude of his Obey works, but there’s no doubt it’s as inspiring as anything else on this list.

Nelson Mandela mural Johannesburg

Image source:Shepard Fairey @ Wikimedia

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3. We the Youth – Keith Haring – Philadelphia

Keith Haring’s famous pop art made waves in the early 1980’s with its daring commentary and clear inspiration from New York graffiti culture, but his most recognisable piece is actually in the Point Breeze neighbourhood of Philadelphia. This was originally a placeholder location for We the People, but the piece is now a part of its landscape, drawing tourists from all over the world.

Keith Haring We Are The Youth street art

Image source:Rgs25 @ Wikimedia

4. Basquiat Mural – Banksy – London

With this piece right in the heart of London, Banksy pays homage to one of the finest street artists – and artists in general – of our time, Jean Michel Basquiat. The colourful American eventually made the transition to canvas work, but his graffitied works were as daring as they were beautiful, and in this piece Banksy includes a character that apes Basquiat’s unique style, alongside a dose of social commentary the infamous artist would have been happy to be associated with.

Banksy Basquiat street art Barbican Centre London

Image source:The Barbican Centre

5. 9/11 Memorial – Lady Pink – New York

Lady Pink is a trailblazer in many ways. The Ecuadorian-born artist was one of the first women street artists, gaining fame by tagging and painting trains in New York. Her colourful murals have been delighting those in public spaces since the late 80’s, and she is still working to this day. Despite her brash aesthetic, her 9/11 Memorial in Queens manages to convey both loss and hope, as well as a belief in a better future, making it well worth the journey over the East River.

Lady pink 911 memorial New York street art

6. Etnias – Eduardo Kobra – Sao Paolo

Eduardo Kobra has been asked to create murals all over the world, but there’s no doubt his most iconic work is Etnias, painted in his hometown of Sao Paolo in honour of the 2016 Rio Olympics. A piece of art of epic proportions – 190m long and 15m high – it required 40 days of work and thousands of litres of paint to complete, and truly has to be seen to be believed.

Mural Etnias street art

Image source:Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil @ Wikimedia

7. Various – Mission District – San Francisco

While there are plenty of great murals across San Francisco, most are concentrated in this quirky, lively neighbourhood. The best spots are Clarion Alley and Balmy Alley, where you’ll find everything from politically motivated works to pure visual masterpieces. The perfect spot for getting those all-important social media snaps.

San Francisco street art mural

Image source:americafromtheroad.com

8. Hush – Jef Aérosol – Paris

Paris has an extensive street art culture that’s birthed some of the most influential creators of the 20th century, and there’s no doubt Jef Aérosol is the best regarded of these French street artists. A huge proponent of art in urban spaces, his work Hush is right in the heart of the French capital, adding a bit of grit to the arrondissement that contains the refined Pompidou Centre and Paris City Hall.

 

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9. Boy on Motorcycle – Ernest Zachaervic – George Town, Penang

Malaysia is considered by many to be Southeast Asia’s street art capital, and most of that is thanks to the work of Ernest Zachaervic. His art trail in Ipoh is well worth spending a day following, but there’s no doubt his most famous piece is this interactive artwork in George Town, Penang. Add in the city’s gorgeous architecture and impeccable street food options, and you’ve got a recipe for one of the best places in the world to walk around.

A motorcycle parked in front of a door, showcasing one of the best street art in the world.

Image source:Sandip Roy @ Unsplash

10. Karl Lagerfeld & Anna Wintour – Bradley Theodore – New York

Known for his bright, playful work that often depicts characters as colourful skeletons, Bradley Theodore has come a long way from his humble origins in the Caribbean. Although he cut his graffiti teeth in London, his most famous work is this piece in New York City, which depicts the two fashion gods in Theodore’s signature style.

 

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11. Various – East Side Gallery – Berlin

When we talk about the political impact of art in public spaces, there’s no better example than this wonderful stretch of the German capital, where dozens of artists were asked to turn the Berlin Wall into something to be celebrated instead of a reminder of the city’s troubled recent past. There are plenty of iconic works to enjoy when you meander past the wall, with the most notably being My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love by Dmitri Vrubel.

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12. Various – Falls Road/Shankhills Road Peace Wall – Belfast

When we talk about the political impact of art in public spaces, there’s no better example than this wonderful stretch of the German capital, where dozens of artists were asked to turn the Berlin Wall into something to be celebrated instead of a reminder of the city’s troubled recent past. There are plenty of iconic works to enjoy when you meander past the wall, with the most notably being My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love by Dmitri Vrubel.

 

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13. Artwork on Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo – OSGEMOS/Blu –Lisbon

You get two for the price of one in this location in the Portuguese capital, with works from Brazilian duo OSGEMOS and Italian street artist Blu. The pieces are definitely political in nature, taking aim at the negative environmental and social impacts of global capitalism, but beyond that they’re simply stunning to look at – and huge to boot, covering two walls of a massive building.

Fontes Pereira street art Lisbon

Image source:Visit Lisbon

14. Magdalena – Fin DAC – Guadalajara

It’s hard to argue against the notion that Mexico City is the best place in the country to find street art, with neighbourhoods like La Roma and Avenida Reforma home to dozens of beautiful pieces. But this recent piece depicting legendary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in the city of Guadalajara is well worth leaving the capital city for. Irish graffiti artist Fin DAC has crafted something truly special that has to be seen to be believed, and is well worth the trip from the capital city.

 

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15. Various – Hosier Lane/Blender Lane – Melbourne

These two streets are separated by a fifteen-or-so minute walk, but both are linked by their importance to Melbourne’s graffiti culture. Strolling through these locations means being exposed to some of the city’s freshest new voices and old hands alike. With work that tackles everything from the plight of Native Australians to Melbourne’s cosmopolitan status, a visit here is sure to be a kaleidoscope of colour.

 

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