Among thousands of street art creations, we picked ten that are completely astonishing and truly inspiring. But before we unveil our top ten list to you, let’s talk a bit about the criteria that we used here. Even though urban art is not a conventional form of artistic expression, it still wants to be understood as art. Conventional visual arts lean on the centuries of art history, and they all dwell among the clearly set goals, boundaries, rules, and expectations. Also, creators of pieces of conventional visual arts aim for galleries and exhibits. However, street art doesn’t want to establish itself outside museums, galleries, and artbooks. Urban art wants to belong to the city, to the public, and to establish itself as a product of the spirit of the city.
Defining Street Art
However, as street art has become more popular, some classic rules started to find their way into the realm of urban arts. Street artists aim for the standards of conventional art, such as the quality of the technique and idea and the message behind the piece. Also, it’s not rare for street artists to sign their work, promote themselves, and even participate in some forms of exhibits. So how do we then define street art? Well, we could put it this way — street art still uses a lot of standards set by the conventional art, but at the same time it strives towards depicting the city it belongs to and thus achieves a completely new form of liberty. We are talking about one interesting paradox here. By thematically (or through motifs) limiting itself to its location, street art reaches freedom. But what kind of freedom is that? Well, it’s a freedom of form, expression, and approach.
Evaluating Street Art
So what are the standards of street art? How should we evaluate it? First of all, street art keeps the classic standards of the quality and value of the technique. Then, street arts, just as classic arts, want to evoke emotion and contemplation. However, classic arts strive more towards achieving the impression of sublime, meaning, the reaction of the spirit. Street arts, on the other hand, strive more towards achieving emotional and/or intellectual reactions. Why? Because the location and factor of temporality determine street art. Urban art wants to speak about contemporary, urban life, and social matters.
Street art is all about “being in the moment” and celebrating the place they belong to. It’s true that classical sculptures or works of architecture are also designed to be “in sync,” to be appropriate, and to “belong” to their surroundings. These pieces of art were made to, at the same time, blend in the city, emphasizing its beauty, and stand out. However, the street has a different approach to its location — it wants to give it temporary charm, some glare, and to capture the current “vibe” of the city. Now that we have defined street art, we can get to evaluate it. So our criteria for the list are going to be the quality of technique, innovative approach to a theme or motif, and ability to capture the spirit of the city and/or the modern urban life.
The List of Ten Best Pieces of Street Art in the World
Since we went through our short art theory lesson, we hope that you are ready to start the countdown.
10. Mount Rushmore, Los Angeles, California
This mural by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra in L.A. combines a well-known motif from American history with the artist’s unique use of colors and perspective. This piece is daring but highly successful. It’s a fusion of classic and contemporary.
9. Portrait of a Man, Prague, Checz Republic
Unfortunately, the author of this piece, located in Prague, is unknown. The artwork revives ancient Greek and Roman portrait techniques with a contemporary approach to the theme and colors. A gentle vibe of the Buzantian drawing technique is also noticeable here.
8. Kiss, New York City
The mural is inspired by the famous photograph of a kiss between a sailor and a nurse in Times Square on Victory Over Japan Day. This artwork is one part of homage to the city’s history, and thanks to the colors and technique, it renders the current urban vibe of New York.
7. The Dream, Belfast, Northern Ireland
This piece by famous graffiti artists Dan Kitchener, located in Belfast, represents a young Japanese woman dressed in traditional clothing. Even though the kimono, katana, and Japanese patterns may seem a bit out of place in Belfast, the mural manages to find its place in this beautiful city with its unique and exotic charm. The motifs in the painting speak of the modern popularity of Japanese culture and contemporary inclinations to the exotic themes in visual arts.
6. Beasts Fighting, London, England
This piece of art is just one of the many impressive murals created by famous artists DALeast. This mural, located in London, represents a moment in a dynamic fight between two ferocious animals. The piece is vibrant, has strong colors, and depicts the motions perfectly.
5. The Whole of Everything, Melbourne, Australia
One of the best pieces in the world of street art culture, The Whole of Everything by Del Kathryn Barton, is located in Melbourne. The piece gives a strong impression of the influence of Gustav Klimt’s art and enchants the spectator with dynamic lines and pale colors.
4. The Burglar, Lisbon, Portugal
The mural that represents a burglar that is trying to escape from the building is the creation of Sam3. This piece of graffiti art uses the structure of the building in an original way. The mural features a mesmerizing shade of black that provides the impression that the burglar is more of a shadow than an actual being. With the dreamy blue of a starry night, this mural sparkles with the glare of impression of something mystic and secretive.
3. Octophant, London, England
A beautiful mural “Octophant” by Alexis Diaz, located in London, England, features fantastic shades of cold, watery colors. The only warm color in the mural is a bright light color of thin lines that emphasize the mural’s cold vibe. The fantastic creature featured in the mural is a mixture of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu and classic visual representation of divinities in Eastern cultures.
2. Don Quijote, Quintanar de la Orden, Spain
This mural by Inti is an imaginative and astonishing contemporary rendering of one of the most famous characters from classic literature — Don Quijote. The mural features a lively play with warm colors and beautiful shading. Don Quijote is here represented with his eyes covered, and this creative metaphor lifts the mural to higher layers of meaning and sets new standards in the public art.
1. Mi Inmortal, Torrijos, Spain
The winner on our top ten list is the mural “My Immortal” by Luis Gomez de Teran. This artwork features a classic technique mixed with vibrant and original signature moves of the famous artist. The mural represents the classic balance between static and dynamic principles but rendered in a contemporary style. Also, this work has a metaphorical approach to the idea of opposites — male/female, mortal/immortal, which can somewhat remind us of Caravaggio’s Lo and Jupiter.
We have now met some of the best street artists in the world, had a chance to get acquainted with the most beautiful murals, and also discussed art theory a bit. However, it seems that we always have a chance to discover some brand new or some overlooked, urban art masterpiece. Street art movement had very humble beginnings, but now, it is thriving and claiming the attention of art lovers all over the world.