2 May 2022
Where to see Street Art in Nice?
A few years ago, Nice, like other cities throughout France and the world, tried to get rid of tags. Today, graffiti are real works of art created by recognized artists or by virtuoso graffiti artists. Mural paintings are even commissioned by the municipality to chase the grey out of the city and to bring art closer to the general public.
Follow us to discover the places where you can see beautiful street art in Nice.
After its underground beginnings in the 1980s, street art has developed worldwide and has been recognised as an art form in its own right with artists such as Basquiat and Keith Haring at the origin of the movement as well as Banksy (the most recognised) followed by Kaws (mixing pop culture and street art), Shepard Fairy (Obey), Bordalo (street art from recycled waste), Mobstr (committed artist), Stik, Jonone… On a national level, we find JR and Invader, Bando (the one who brought graffiti to France from the USA), Jef Aerosol (the first one), C215 (stencil specialist), Miss. Tic, Mr Shiz, Mr Brainwash, Blek le Rat, Speedy Graphito, Roti…
In Nice, the policy for street art took a new turn about 3 years ago, on the initiative of the deputy for culture, Mr Robert Roux, who is passionate about street art, urban art and contemporary art. The latter has mobilised the talents of the excellent graffiti artist from Nice, Thomas Debatisse, alias Otom, who also brings together many other graffiti artists in his wake, notably via his association specialising in urban culture (graffiti, bmx, music, dance, etc.), “Whole Street”, which has more than 15 artists.
1 – The pioneer and founding father of street art: Ernest Pignon-Ernest from Nice!
If there is one artist who is known and appreciated worldwide in the field of street art, it is Ernest Pignon-Ernest! Born in Nice in 1942 and working in Paris, he is indeed considered the precursor of urban art in France and today an essential and popular figure of the national art scene.
Often described as a humanist, a rebel and a committed artist, he became famous in the 1960s for his wild posters in the streets of Paris. Even today, he remains an insatiable artist in his desire to display on the walls the “violence inflicted on men“. His works are generally done in charcoal or black stone. Some of his works, such as the “Fusillés de la Commune” or the “Rimbaud vagabond” reproduced in thousands of copies, have become true icons of modern times.
For fifty years now, Ernest Pignon-Ernest has been stigmatising, with force and poetry, full-scale bodies, worked from live models, and displaying them in the streets of the world! (Photo opposite: @Official Ernest Pignons-Ernest website).
Even if there are no graffiti works by him on the walls of Nice, we couldn’t start this topic on street-art without mentioning the great international master of urban art! You can nevertheless appreciate his immense talent in the Garibaldi tramway station where an imposing sculpture, signed Ernest Pignon-Ernest, sits majestically. The work is entitled “Pépin, la déesse et la mer” and reflects the rich history of Nice. It is a representation of the goddess Niké (from whom the city of Nice takes its name), inspired by the Victory of Samothrace exhibited in the Louvre. On the shoulder of the goddess, the young Joseph Garibaldi, dressed as a sinner, looks down on passers-by and travellers. Behind the work, screens broadcast a live image of the exit from the port.
In 2016, the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) in Nice devoted an exhibition to Ernest Pignon-Ernest, whose retrospective can be viewed online.
2- “Gaïa et ses papillons”
« Gaïa et ses papillons » have been contemplating walkers and motorists since December 2017, under the Fabron bridge, opposite the exit of the Voie Mathis.
This superb representation of the goddess of Greek mythology offers a reflection on the environment, reflecting the ecological concerns of its author. Surrounded by butterflies and wearing a crown of flowers, the beautiful Gaïa smiles at life and brings colour and joy to this busy street, a stone’s throw from the Promenade des Anglais.
Half pop culture, half comic book, this first permanent and legal street-art fresco in Nice was commissioned by the city and is the work of the Nice graffiti virtuoso Otom. The territorial departments of the city of Nice have a participatory budget intended to improve the living environment of the inhabitants of the district. The Territory Directorate and the Bas Fabron neighbourhood committee hope that in 2021 other works will be created so that all the spaces not yet graffitied in this tunnel will be.
3 – “Ambiance ta ville !” The free expression wall
The result of a promise made to young people by the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, the free expression wall of the XVth Corps, near the Acropolis Congress Centre, allows graffiti artists to express themselves according to their desires.
The inauguration of this wall represents a historic moment for Nice’s urban art, as it is the first time that Nice has hosted a wall in the city centre, free to all artists wishing to express themselves. For the occasion, Debza, a graffiti artist from Toulouse, renowned for his inimitable style of lettering inspired by Japanese manga, and Ernesto Novo, a Nice native living in exile in Paris, came to collaborate with local stars (Otom, Brian Caddy, Chika, Guitou Top Gun, César M., Faben, Dzio, Wanjah, Artmakeroneright, to produce a fresco of more than 70m long.
Open to all, this space will be constantly evolving. The works can be covered and replaced by others at any time. Thus, at the time of writing, the collective fresco created by 11 artists from the “Whole Street” association – who have been entrusted with the artistic development of this wall – is already different from the one presented at the inauguration of this wall on 31 January 2021 (see video below).
When you will have the leisure to pass in these places, you will certainly discover something else than what I was able to photograph at the end of March 2021 (see photos opposite and on the cover)… Never frozen, always in movement, this wall of expression aims at embellishing the district while letting the youth and art express themselves ! A success !
Focus on Whole Street
The association was created in 2015 by Otom and Faben, two street artists from Nice and is dedicated to the development of street art on the French Riviera. Its aim is to transmit the Graffiti culture on this territory by proposing, in particular, services such as Graffiti initiations, murals or live painting.
For these two talented graffiti artists, the adventure began with a partnership with the City of Nice, which wanted to embellish the fences of the second tramway line.
Local graffiti artists such as Sacrifice, Weal, El Fantasma, Guilaine, Brian Caddy, Otom, Faben, Moustache Bleue, Moya, Desset, Dzio, Nasica, Wolf as well as international artists such as Etnik, Pleks, CIB… were able to express their talent on these supports, which have now been removed.
Since then, the partnerships with the town hall have been brilliant.
4 – The urban culture centre “Le 109”
A real open-air gallery is now available to street art lovers at “109”!
Part of the interior wall of the “109”, a new 2-hectare urban culture centre, was made available to 20 graffiti artists by the City of Nice. Numerous creations have been set up, reflecting the diversity and richness of Nice’s graffiti artists: the 20 street artists present on the walls of the 109 : annabelle tattu – otom – francois nasica – brian caddy – antonia schmid – romain bagriot – murielle tisserand – patrick moya – julien hayot – faben – el fantasma – chika – crash – antony alberti – jeremy besset – florence fabris – 2-934 – kotek – hierro – jb
The outdoor wall in rue Chapel should be inaugurated in “free expression” mode by the summer of 2021, as part of the annual “Eclairage Public” event. A project for a place dedicated to street art is also currently under consideration, within this same pole. This will satisfy both residents and artists!
5 – The looks of the Tunnel Durante
The tunnel of the Nice Centre SNCF station has been enhanced with funding from the territorial council.
Of the various proposals made by Otom (him again!), it is the “Regards” proposal that has been chosen by the City of Nice. With a dimension of 220 metres long and 2 metres high (i.e. 440m2), this fresco is the biggest one the artist has done to date. It presents the portrait of 12 Nice men and women, from different cultures and backgrounds.
The work has embellished the walls of this underground structure, bringing more humanity, joy and colour to passers-by and motorists. “We start with the look of a newborn baby and end with the look of someone almost a hundred years old. There is a banker, an artist, a homeless person, strangers and famous people… Real people, real people from Nice.… says Otom.
6 – Sport in the spotlight under the Allianz Riviera stadium tunnel
The city of Nice wanted to take advantage of the passage of the Tour de France in 2020 to highlight, in an artistic way, the Nice football club, OGC Nice, whose matches take place at the Allianz Riviera stadium in the west of the city.
For this commission from the city, 6 artists worked in the tunnel next to the stadium, Boulevard des Jardiniers, under the A8 motorway bridge : Otom, Ernesto Novo, Chika, César, Kotek, Dzio. The Allianz group helped finance these works of art. One side of the tunnel is dedicated to OGC Nice, the other will keep a trace of the Tour de France’s passage !
Other photos can be found on the Nice club’s website: https://www.ogcnice.com/fr/actualite/40420/le-gym-et-le-tour-de-france-en-peinture
You will have understood. In Nice, art is in the museums but not only! Art invites itself to the eyes of the passers-by, art is democratized. Street art has found its letters of nobility and illuminates the daily life of the inhabitants and walkers.
As you walk along, you may see other works than those presented in this article. I am thinking in particular of the “Angel Wings” painted on the wall of a “Fit & Eat” establishment in Barralis Street. Take a selfie with the angel wings on your back…
I’ll let you find these creative and original nuggets as you wander around the beautiful city of Nice, which I love. I hope you will also enjoy discovering or rediscovering Nice from a “street art” angle.