Those who think that art is restricted to museums and exhibitions are mistaken. The street can be considered a large open-air art gallery. In addition to all the architecture that surrounds the place, along with the sculptures and monuments, there are several artistic expressions spread over walls, pilasters, squares and even buildings in large cities. These different forms of artistic manifestations are considered urban art.

The famous French painter, Claude Monet, said that "art is a luxury, not because it necessarily needs" wealth "to be executed ... it is a luxury because it needs hands ... Rested!". Although urban art is often done by tired hands, it is not at all luxurious. And it is very far from that. The use of simple products on a “canvas” that is a cement wall or an overpass pillar is a symbol of this artistic expression. She is raised on the street and remains on the street. Without much expense and often without even knowing who the artist is. Urban art is not protected from rain nor does it have elaborate lighting as in museums. It is simple, cheap and popular.

In addition, it is important to emphasize that access to urban art is free. In other words, it is democratic, since everyone, regardless of their financial situation, has access to it. In addition, another strong feature in this form of artistic expression is the use of a society's opinion and reality. In this way, urban art often contains a criticism of the system and politics and this makes it very current. It is also important to remember the social role that urban art plays in society, as it is one of the few artistic forms that reach simpler places, such as communities.

In the following article, you will better understand what urban art is, its forms of manifestations, as well as getting to know some cities famous for their open-air galleries.

Urban art: understanding the concept

Urban art is nothing more than artistic manifestations made in public environments. She presents herself in different ways, through paintings, theater, performance and even music. In addition, another characteristic of this artistic intervention is that, as it is in an urban space, it interacts with the public, that is, it is linked to the daily life of society. Thus, it is connected to people's daily lives.

This fusion of art and urban life began in the United States, more precisely in New York, during the 1970s. Although many consider this year as the starting point for this artistic expression, some scholars say that it started in the Middle Ages, with the Greeks and Romans. At that time, the use of poems spread over city walls was quite common.

But, returning to New York, the paintings around the city started in a dynamic and temporary way. However, it has not stopped today. In Brazil, urban artistic manifestations also began during the 1970s, that is, in the period when the country suffered from the military dictatorship. It is important to emphasize this to reinforce that urban art is not only interested in beauty itself. Urban art is a form of communication, where the artist uses painting to express opinion, indignation and even denounces society.

The same was seen in Europe. The Berlin wall, symbol of the Cold War, separated Germany into two parts. And this huge wall was a canvas for several artistic manifestations that are maintained until today.

Even today, in the middle of the 21st century, many people confuse graffiti with graffiti and end up associating this artistic expression with a form of vandalism. But, the only thing in common between the two is the paint and the canvas.

Urban art and its different manifestations

Many people end up considering urban art only graffiti. Although graffiti is very present in the daily life of large cities, there are other forms of manifestations of urban art.


Graffiti is certainly the most popular urban art. Graffiti are stylized paintings made using spray paint. It is quite common to find paintings on walls, tunnels and even buildings. Today, graffiti is exploring 3D style more.

There are 2 great Brazilian artists known in the world for their graffiti work, which are displayed on the streets of major cities. The brothers and artists The Gemini started to graffiti in the 80s. Currently, they have great paintings in several cities, such as São Paulo, London and New York.


Another form of painting scattered on walls and tunnels in large cities is stencils. In this art, you can use aerosol paint or not. In addition, the stencil uses a mold made of paper or acetate. In this way it is possible to redo the paintings in different places, since the painting is executed from a mold.

Lick Lick, Collage and Stickers

This art form is widely used in the cities, mainly due to the speed of installation. The stickers, known as "sticker art" are present on signs, poles and even on posters, which are another form of street art. The posters, also called lick lick, are made of printed paper and glued to walls and posts. It is very common to find this type of artistic expression near metro stations and in places where there is a large concentration of bars and restaurants.

Street performances

Although much is said about paintings, such as graffiti and stencil, there are other forms of artistic expression on the streets. Theater, music and dance are presentations that use the bodies of artists such as canvas and art ink.

In large urban centers, such as New York and Paris, it is very common to find these types of presentations in the city squares and sidewalks. In this artistic expression, the street itself is the stage and the artist is the art itself. The audience is the people, who are in the back and forth of their day to day, going to work and strolling. Another important point is that these expressions are quite dynamic. Each day they are in a different point of the city or even in different cities.


Urban art “galleries” to discover Europe

Some cities are known for being great art galleries in the open. They mix urban art with the architecture and sculptures present in these environments. That is, in many of them, there is an interaction of the old with the new, making a simple stroll on the street an opportunity for cultural knowledge quite enriching.

Art 1 - Lisbon

Lisbon is a city that has a unique architecture. The facade of the buildings surrounded by tiles, contrasts with urban art. So much so that, since 2018, the Portuguese capital has had an Urban Art Gallery on Calçada da Glória and Largo da Oliveirinha. This gallery has 7 panels that express the sense of urban art well. In addition, street performances are quite common in Lisbon's squares.

Art 2 - London

England's cloudy capital is also known for its center of urban art. While the noble part of the city is home to the monarchy, the streets of the suburb carry their unique characteristics.

The famous “Banksy Tunnel” is a super street art gallery. In addition to this location, other famous spots in the English city, which also make up the city's urban art are Shoreditch, Spitalfields and Candem Town.

Art 3 - Berlin

Berlin is a great symbol of urban art. Especially because, it is impossible to think about these art forms and not remember the classic graffiti on the Berlin wall, which represents a gay kiss, between German communist president Erich Honecker and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

Street art is very present in the culture of the German capital. In addition to the traces of the wall, other points are known for the arts, such as in the Mitte, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and East End neighborhoods. Urban art is so much a part of the city's culture that there is even a tour, called the “Alternative Tour”. It is a great opportunity to learn more about art in the open air in the city of Berlin.

Art 4 - Paris

France is a great artistic center. In the country several spaces for different types of artistic manifestations. Architecture, like the Notre Dame cathedral, and the Palace of Versailles and the countless museums, like the Louvre, the most visited in the world.

But the capital Paris is home to much more than this rich artistic heritage. Urban art is part of the daily life of the city. It is very common to find mainly street performances scattered around Paris. There are bands playing music in the squares, theater groups in the parks and opera singers taking advantage of the acoustics on the outside of the Louvre. In addition, there is also the Clignancourt Market, a popular urban art spot. In other words, the city breathes art in different ways in its daily life.


Urban art is part of big cities, they are great storytellers of the society that lives there. It is important to value these artists and not miss the famous installations in European cities. Like architecture, music and works of art, urban art also builds the culture of a society.

A complementary way to the experiences lived in urban art galleries or even museums is through Timelinefy, which is a digital tool that makes it possible to tell stories and organize information in time in a chronological way, through time lines.