France has been an art capital since… well, since about as long as we’ve been making art. The Lascaux Caves, near the village of Montignac in Dordogne, are home to some of the most spectacular prehistoric cave paintings in the world.
Thousands of years later, France gave the world a full college art history course worth of famous artists: Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet. There was Marcel Duchamp, Georges Seurat, Georges Braque, Henri Rousseau, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Marc Chagall. And that’s barely a scratch in the surface.
Think of art in France and you immediately think of the hallowed halls of the Louvre, but the country has more to offer than antique masterpieces. France also boasts a thriving street art scene. Though the country enforces strict laws against vandalism and damaging of public property and monuments, street art continues to thrive.
Early pioneers of the medium in France include Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Blek le Rat, and Jef Aerosol. Newer stars include Invader’s pixellated characters, Seth Globepainter’s colourful escapism, Ludo’s post-apocalyptic creations, and JR’s large-scale installations.
Above you’ll find 28 French street artists every aficionado should know. Vive l’art. Vive la France.