French artist Julien de Casabianca is freeing figures from the walls of famous institutions such as the L’Ouvre and the Musee D’Orsay and releasing them onto the streets of Paris and beyond. De Casabianca photographs images such as Picasso and Ingres, expands them, then transfers them to public walls, the scrappier the surface the better. The artist has recently invited the public to join in as part of the Outings project, which encourages art lovers worldwide to paste the once trapped figures around town for the viewing pleasure of pedestrians.
De Casabianca has zeroed in not on the Mona Lisa’s, but on the supporting characters of classic art. “We’ve sufficiently seen the blockbusters of art! And we don’t look at the smaller works forgotten in the corner,” Casabianca wrote in the email. “It’s more interesting to go and give life to a worker painted in the 17th century than to a king,” de Casabianca said in an interview with Slate.
The project began in Paris and has since expanded to 17 cities in 17 countries. Outings has had a broad socio economic scope as well. De Casabianca has chosen many low-income sites as his canvas in an attempt to bring art to groups who often feel alienated from museum culture.
This project indicates an evolution in the perception of street art. What was once widely considered vandalism is now a method of fostering community. In the past, big names like Banksy had to work after sundown or in disguise to post their art illegally on public property. De Casabianca’s work and movement has been lauded by major institutions around the world from the Museo del Romanticismo in Spain to the Art Institute of Chicago, and by public officials such as the mayor of Paris.
“It’s not vandalism, it’s noble-ism,” stated Maïlys Lamotte-Paulet, de Casabianca’s assistant in an interview with TMagazine.
De Casabianaca does, however, recommend avoiding clean walls of institutions such as schools and hospitals. Besides, says the artist, a clean slate is “ugly.” It’s more interesting to paste on the “pretty, rotten walls.”
What do you think? Is De Casabianca elevating street art, or promoting vandalism? Check out his Instagram for the most recent installments of the Outing project.