Red heart and street sign with church dome beyond
Paris,  Photographing Public Art,  Street art,  Travel galleries

Gallery: hearts and skulls on the streets of Paris

When you visit a city regularly, you can make time to explore new areas, as well as revisit favourite corners. And you can look for quirky details to photograph as well as the obvious sights.

That was certainly the case on our recent trip to Paris. And there, as I do wherever I go, I was on the look out for colourful and interesting street art in the different neighbourhoods we explored. Remember, street art doesn’t have to be large and dramatic; sometimes the tiniest pieces can be just as interesting and eye-catching.

As we walked around the city, I noticed a number of very similar pieces. These were not painted onto surfaces but were little objects attached to the walls of buildings, often quite high up. The more I looked for them, the more I found.

So when I came home, I started to sort them into groups and to try to find out something about them, with limited success.

Anarchy hearts

One motif I found in several places, but in particular in Montmartre, was of a heart with an A across it. My research revealed that these are the work of one artist, known as A2. According to the Urbacolours website A2 stands for anarchie and amour (love), but also for anarchy squared. If you look closely at my photos you’ll see each heart marked with A2 near the bottom.

White heart with letter A in black
In Montmartre
Little model of a girl in a balloon and a red heart on a blue disc
On a corner near the Sacré Coeur, Montmartre
Red heart and blue mosaic animal on a wall
In Beaubourg, near the Pompidou Centre

Skulls

Perhaps less appealingly, another recurrent motif was a small colourful skull. But unlike the hearts, I couldn’t find any info about these online – I’m not even sure if they’re all by the same artist. Some were on their own, others clustered with other little bits and pieces.

Small red skull on a wall by a street sign
Red skull in Montmartre
Small blue skull and image of tank with figure holding flowers
With a reference to Tiananmen?
Green and tan coloured skull on a wall
In Montmartre
Various small items stuck to a wall
Assortment including skull and octopus in Montmartre:
‘I know that my life will be a dream’

Mosaics

Another trend in Parisian street art seemed to be the use of tiny mosaic tiles stuck on to a wall to create a bit of art. You can see one in my Beaubourg heart photo above; here are some more.

Green mosaic tiles with Paris in white letters
‘Paris’, in Montmartre
Mosaic of skull with glass of wine
Near Jussieu Metro station
Cross shape decorated with blue glass mosaic tiles
Gatepost in Montmartre
Small heart made from red and white mosaic tiles
Mosaic heart, Montmartre

I even came across a mosaic design on the ground in Beaubourg, already shared in my post about looking down: Ceilings and floors (and pavements and more)

Paper cut-outs

I also found a number of pieces that were more like collages, with paper images arranged and stuck on the wall. These must be very ephemeral, much more so even than regular street art, and I wasn’t quite sure that some could really be called original creations. After all, even I could cut out a drawing and stick it to a wall! But others seemed more imaginative in their combination of different clippings and drew me to photograph them.

These and all of the photos in this post are shared for the Photographing Public Art challenge which this week is hosted by Cee.

Small figure of a woman and leaves on a stone pillar
Garden gate post in Montmartre
Paper sparrow and strips of photo booth images on a wall
At the base of a wall in Montmartre
Picture of a woman in a blue dress
Above the Wall of Love in Montmartre:
‘To love is to create disorder … therefore let us love’

I visit Paris often; these photos are all from my 2021 trip

21 Comments

  • maristravels

    What a collection of interesting street art you’ve uncovered in Paris this trip. I love them all, especially the hot air balloon, but not sure about the skulls. I wonder if these skulls are just part of the world wide liking for skulls by a certain section of the population. I see a lot of them on my travels, painted, sculpted, on mugs, glasses etc. Maybe something to do with Game of Thrones? I think it’s connected to games of some sort. Glad your trip yielded such good results.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Mari. I’m not sure about the skulls either and I don’t know enough about GoT to know if there’s a connection, but it seems to me that skulls have been used in street art for longer than that’s been around? Great to have you back with your full identity 😀

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Michaela 😊 Yes, I guess you could see this as a treasure hunt. I didn’t set out to look for anything in particular but as these themes started to occur to me I began to look for more examples!

  • SandyL

    I started posting a comment but may have lost the draft … but I was saying that the best part of travel is staying in familiar unfamiliar places and finding things that quick visitors will overlook. Altho you didn’t submit it, I think some of these ‘art’ pieces are found objects. For example the cut-outs pasted on the walls … is it art? Who knows, it’s a creative thought anyways. I like the Garden gate post in Montmarte the best.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks for persisting Sandy 😀 Yes, you’re so right – it was great not to feel any pressure to see specific sights and/or a large number of them. We just took our time walking around and taking photos, plus a lot of chilling in pavement cafes and watching Paris go by!

      Good point too about the ‘found’ objects – the paper pieces could certainly qualify as that although it hadn’t occurred to me unfortunately 😏

  • maristravels

    Haven’t read this post yet, I’m just creeping up on WP as it looks as though it has miraculously adjusted my settings and I can comment again. I’ve done it 3 times tonight and all’s well, so we’ll see what happens here and then I’ll read the post later.

Do let me know what you think - I'd love to hear from you

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