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A Guide To Street Artists in Florence

Lately it has felt like the streets of Florence have become more than just a Renaissance background, street art has been popping up more than ever, and everywhere I go I see something new. Something odd, something interesting, and I love it all – and it keeps my eyes open to spotting this as I walk around the city. My friends have been getting into it and even the people I work for. I realize that the actual city administration might be a lot less keen on what could be seen as defacing city alleyways, but let’s be honest. It’s get us thinking a little more, plus it makes day-to-day objects like street signs into interesting talking points.

My aim in this post was to shed a little light on the art you see in Florentine city streets, perhaps you’ve instagrammed it or told a friend.

Hopefully this way you can see who is behind much of this urban movement and we can start a discussion about this on the blog. Who have I missed? What do you like? What don’t you like?

I owe a lot of the info of this post to the wonderful Janine Gaelle, who works for street artist Clet and keeps me posted on cool street art. Plus she pulls off a boxed hat like no-one I have ever met.

Clet

When most people think of street art in Florence, they think of Clet Abraham, who has been sneakily changing street signs in the wee hours with removable stickers for over four years now. A dead-end sign becomes a Jesus crucifix, or is partially eaten by pacman – a man cutting the white bar of a ‘no go’ street sign. You could say that his work is provocative, I wouldn’t argue with that but he is what this city living off 500 year’s of history really need, a new protaganist. His work isn’t about defacing city property but instead  offers encouragement to reflect on the current constraints on “civil” society.

cletstudio

When my boyfriend’s parents were in town from a small city in France, Nico’s dad delighted in spotting Clet’s work, snapping a pic every time he recognized one of the signs to later make into a street art collage for his pharmacy back home.  I’ll never forget when I first spotted his enormous nose installation on the San Niccolo Tower. You don’t forget his work once you’ve seen it, besides the anti-establishment vibe – there is a strong element of ‘surprise’ in his art.

'The Painter' Photo via Clet's Facebook Page

‘The Painter’ Photo via Clet’s Facebook Page

My favorite is possibly the most simple, a left-turn sign with a heart going through it – every time I see it, it brightens my day. Despite the fact that yes, these signs are modified, personally, it feels like it should be there. A lot of people have written about Clet (including my friend and a much bigger art expert than I could ever be, Alexandra from ArtTrav), and on a recent trip to Barcelona, I spotted a few of his signs out there too.

He has called Italy home for over 20 years (he is originally from France) and has a studio in one of the best areas of town, the San Niccolo neighborhood. Clet is a nice, humble and interesting person, this year we celebrated a friend’s wedding in his studio, I even got to conduct the ceremony among the artwork and prints.

End of a dream

A photo posted by Clet A (@cletabraham) on

I loved when he was once asked ‘why Florence’, instead of the usual answer of ‘how can you not love florence‘ he simply said he choose this city because he broke up with his ex-wife and did not want to be a bachelor in the countryside, so Florence made sense, plus he wanted to stay close to his sons.

Stay in touch with Clet and visit his studio in san niccolo, Via Dell’Olmo 8r, where you can pick up stickers, prints and more. I also adored the Clet street photos from blog, The City Lane.

clet abrahamClet with my newly-married friends, Yasmine & Svebor. 

A thought square, but much confusion in communication

A photo posted by Clet A (@cletabraham) on

L’arte sa nuotare

I am sure you have seen the work of ‘Blub’ (assuming that is not her/his actual name) which is called ‘L’arte Sa Nuotare,’ or ‘Art Knows how to Swim.’ often featuring famous figures and artworks such as the Botticelli madonna, Michelangelo’s David and members of the Medici family in swimming masks on small posters, it’s pretty awesome. I have spotted Blub’s work a lot around town though it usually doesn’t last long in any one place.

Famous art going for a ‘dip’ in Florence – How can you not love that?

I love his ironic flair and he reminds me a bit of Andy Warhol, according to The Florentine, they also dabble in more contemporary figures like ‘masking up’ Time’s person of the year. In a recent story on Instagrammer’s Italia Blub’s aim is “to make famous art more accessible to the wider public, take these awe-inspiring works off their museum pedestals, invoking emotion, a smile, a conversation’.

You have to follow his instagram, which keeps us up to date on the latest works, I especially love some of the latest ones, a play on famous artist René Magritte’s ‘this is not a pipe’ with a pair of swimming goggles. If you want to keep up with his work, or ask Blub a question, check out the dedicated facebook page.

Photo by @lartesanuotare

Photo by @lartesanuotare

Finestra con Vista #fcvfirenze

Another urban art project that I think deserves a lot of attention are the great minds behind ‘Finestra con Vista’ {window with a view) an art mob whose first event included 31 artists setting up 40+ works on city streets on a night in September (without permission naturally).   Florentine doors and windows with their own unique street pieces. The initiative is that of French artist Yan Blusseau who has also collaborated with street artists Clet and Exit/Enter.

You can see a list of the works and artists from the event on September 15th here. Interesting enough they chose the date because it was on this day in 1865 that Florence became the (temporary) capital of Italy. I saw a few of their works around town before they were taken down. I highly recommend checking out the site of Noumeda Carbona (below right) which I found very unique.

When it comes to why they do it. According to ‘Toc Toc Firenze’ “Florence is full of walled-up doors and windows. There are hundreds. They are empty frames, suspended, bordering on the absurd, that seem to expect to be honored. We don’t see them, and they, now blind, no longer see us. Inhabiting them through art seemed to be the most beautiful way to give back all the view.” – explains Yan.

My street art partners in crime, Nico & Ginger ‘artdog‘. Works by Leo Baglioni & Noumeda Carbona

Exit/Enter

It would be hard to spend a few days in Florence without spotting the work of ‘Exit/Enter’ whose funny little men in simple scenes like the one below make any decrepit wall in Florence look good. The young artist behind this work has been interviewed by Toc Toc Firenze and explains that ‘art and drawing is a part of him’ along with long walks around the city – the concept of exit and enter because ‘life is a continuous change and an endless succession of situations, depending on your point of view, can be experienced as an exit or an entrance to new possibilities’. It was almost accidental that the work made it to the streets. Frustrated by the lack of opportunities for young artists in Florence, he took to making his own ‘open air gallery’.

He did so by painting his work on the streets in Florence in order to make them ponder grandiose things like ‘the meaning of life’ with these interesting little men whose ladders go up until infinity or that fly away with a few balloons. Almost childlike but done so on purpose, the simpleness of them are genuine and pure – accessible to anyone and everyone. Check him out on facebook.

exitenter street art in florence Just fly away.. 

Urban Solid

A recent favorite, I had to stop and snap a pic of this cheeky street statue on a recent walk in Florence, lo and behold (thank you instagram) I discover these are the same people behind a variety of artwork/sculptures protruding from Florentine walls. Urban Solid is the name of two Italian artists (I believe based in Milan) but have their work featured in Florence as well as London.

urbansolidKiss Florence 

Il Sedicente Moradi

A street artist creating sculpture out of recycled materials, I definitely am a fan of the work of Il Sedicenti Moradi. This anonymous 34-year-old who lived in the oltrarno going by the name ‘Self-styled Moradi’ in Italian first studied the classical arts at the Academy of fine arts in Florence, first as a cartoonist, then painter and finally a sculptor. He thinks of Florence as an ‘artist incubator’ – preferring the streets to the stuffiness of art galleries.

I spotted his ‘urban jungle’ recently in my very own neighborhood of piazza della passera, and have been obsessed with seeing what he’s got next up his sleeve via his instagram.

 Il Sedicente Moradi by Il Reporter

Il Tuffo aka ‘The Dive’ by Il Sedicente Moradi (photo via instagram @sedicentemoradi)

Guerrilla Spam

Started in 2010 by local Florentines by a single act of sticking a drawing on a street and seeing the reaction. From there, Guerrilla Spam has been seen in Torino, Barcelona and various cities around the world in various acts of ‘urban warfare’.  What I find interesting about them is how fervent they are about not wanting profit and showcasing their art in a respectful manner (not directly drawing onto buildings). They seek tomerely sharing their art on the road and in fact on their about section on Facebook the following description.

SPAM

1. Born to counter the massive power of media communication of misinformation.

2. It acts directly on the streets, in the walls, in a non-invasive, respecting the urban space as a place for everyone.

3. It works anonymously, free and independent, and its sole purpose is to communicate with people, in order to encourage freedom of thought and expression.

I find their work interesting and creative, and I highly recommend you check out their website where you can download their drawings for free and long as you promise to sell them.

(Photo by Guerilla Spam)

(Photo by Guerilla Spam)

Hopnn Yuri

A new urban street artist currently in Florence, dedicated to political and ecological issues which he displays through prints, often signing his own with “+BC = -CO2” to encourage people to use bikes to get around town – which often also play a part in his work. I have seen his colorful work near my house in the oltrarno and was intrigued, I’m happy to finally know who it is.

As reported by The Republic, “The Renaissance is everywhere in this city – the artist says – perhaps it lacks a bit the contemporary”. His poster featuring five members of the Medici family definitely stirred a lot of interest, and I am very much looking forward to seeing more of his work around town. You can check out his official website here, or on Facebook.

Photo by Inside Art

Photo by Inside Art


Janine also told me about an urban space, a bit dirty abandoned and used by street artists in Florence to showcase some of their work, called Malborghetto by piazza tasso (you can read more here, in Italian). I would love to visit one day and if anyone has more info about this place, let me know.

If you know about some interesting street art in Florence, Italy or beyond tell me about it! 

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22 Comment

  1. Reply
    Sarah
    08.12.2014 at 22:04

    Really neat guide to street art in Florence! I have seen some street art in Palermo that seems similar to Hopnn Yuri. I wonder if its the same artist?!

    1. mm
      Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      09.12.2014 at 9:25

      I think it might be, I’m pretty sure I saw that he was down there but it might be worth asking him. I know he travels around and so does his art 🙂

  2. Reply
    Gil
    08.12.2014 at 23:53

    Such great talent! Florence seems to be a magnet for artists….

    1. mm
      Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      09.12.2014 at 9:25

      Gil you have no idea, it seems as if there are more than ever – I love it! I think I notice it more because I live in the center now

  3. I love that video interview!

    1. mm
      Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      09.12.2014 at 16:08

      LDM does wonderful interviews, I regularly watch them to see what’s going on on Florence!

  4. Reply
    Yvonne
    09.12.2014 at 4:24

    Thank you for this comprehensive review of these street artists. They’re doing such interesting work.

    1. mm
      Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      09.12.2014 at 9:24

      My pleasure Yvonne! I have been noticing so much lately in the city and have been doing research for some time now, hopefully I can feature more local artists on Girl in Florence, thank you for reading

  5. Reply
    Colin
    10.12.2014 at 13:45

    I had my first trip to Florence in September this year and have fallen in love with the place. Shame I didn’t find your website until now as it would have been really useful 🙂

    Anyway, onto the street art. It’s only this year that I’ve begun to take an interest in urban art / street art but never thought anything about it during my trip to Florence – not really expecting to see anything in the home of the Renaissance – so I missed everything you’ve mentioned in your post, but…

    On my last morning I was wandering around, making the most of my last few hours, when something caught my eye & I realised I’d found a piece of street art. It was on the corner of via Del Fiordaliso and Borgo Santi Apostoli and is a piece by a French artist called Jef Aerosol. It looks like a young Elvis and includes his signature red arrow.

    I just checked Google Street View and though that image was taken in July 2014, the art work isn’t there so it must have been a pretty new piece when I saw it. I do have pics if you’d like to see them?

    Keep up the good work.
    – Colin

    1. mm
      Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      10.12.2014 at 14:49

      Hello Colin, thank you for your thoughtful comment and support, I appreciate it. I too have started only recently enjoying street art, especially in Florence. Probably because I now live in the center and seem to spot it much more frequently. I think it’s great because it seems to mix very harmoniously together, as I mentioned before not ‘defacing’ anything but instead enhancing it. I would love to see your photos, you can email me at ggncally84 at hotmail dot com. I know that sometimes the work is taken down so it could be due to that. I have heard the name Jef so I will definitely research this further, thank you!

  6. […] “Masterpieces of Accademia“(click on and read about each one); Girl in Florence, “A Guide to Street Artists in Florence” Write: Reading Response (Suggested prompt: How would you characterize the style of McCarthy or […]

  7. […] more about the street art in Florence with A Guide To Street Artists in Florence (A Girl in […]

  8. Reply
    Marjolein
    10.03.2015 at 9:52

    Great article! It inspired me to look around for the street arts in Florence yesterday 🙂 And yes, I saw lots of it (Clet, Blub and Enter Exit). It gives quite a different perspective of the city 😉 Thanks for that!
    I posted some pictures om my blog, there will be more this week: https://marjoleinvegers.wordpress.com/

  9. […] That is not the only thing to look for on Florence’s walls. Minimalist and stylized tiny little men pop up around every corner. With their red balloons and hearts, they seem to have found that piece of the wall to lean a moment before slipping away. Their creator is Exit Enter, a street artist. […]

  10. Reply
    Jerry the Mouse
    16.08.2015 at 0:58

    I’d love to hear about what’s out there in Florence now! I have a couple of pictures I took tonight to share, but my email is difficult now. I’ll try to send, though! Grazie for the great info!

    1. mm
      Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      19.08.2015 at 9:21

      Hello Jerry, the street art is pretty similar, the same street artists you can see pretty much everywhere 🙂 Thank you for reading!

  11. […] Accademia, “Masterpieces of Accademia“(click on and read about each one); Girl in Florence, “A Guide to Street Artists in Florence” Write: Reading Response (canvas) Suggested prompt: How would you characterize the style of McCarthy […]

  12. […] Florence had some really interesting street art that caught my eye […]

  13. […] For more examples of street art in Florence as well as information about the artists, check out the Girl in Florence blog post ‘A Guide to Street Artists in Florence‘. […]

  14. […] did a little search around the web and found a good piece about Florence street art by Girl in Florence. There I learned that the installation is called ‘L’arte Sa Nuotare,’ or ‘Art Knows How to […]

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