Italy has about 60% of the world’s greatest art in its museums, galleries, and churches…but the masterpieces don’t end once you step out into the street. In some cases, it’s just the beginning!
When I think of street art, I usually think of graffiti style images on buildings and subways, but there’s another type of street art in Italy that’s the chalk of the town! Michelangelo might have made ceilings and walls his canvas, but the artists in this video turn to the streets as THEIR temporary canvas!
In the video you will see the amazing, yet temporary, masterpieces on the streets of Rome and Florence.
Street art is part of Italy’s artistic culture, and unlike painted graffiti on walls, this type of art is impermanent and takes the name Street Art literally!!
Generally, artists and art students obtain a license to create impermanent street paintings in designated areas on streets, sidewalks or piazzas, and these are usually created with chalk or pastels. Their rewards are tips from passersby.
This tradition goes back throughout Europe since 16th century and in Italy they’ve been called Madonnari because they’ve often re-created masterpieces depicting the Madonna (the Virgin Mary). As in the past, many street artists travel throughout the world joining festivals or competitions and creating masterpieces in chalk wherever they go. Some are art students or locals who turn their town into a permanent art studio.
Sometimes it takes days to complete a masterpiece, and once it’s finished, it begins to disappear underneath people’s trampling feet, street sweepers or general traffic. And if it rains, it vanishes completely, creating clean canvas for yet another work of art to take its place. The only mementos of these masterpieces are found in the photos and videos people have taken.
Some of the talented artists I met did not speak English, but I was surprised to run into American artist and Madonarra, Kelly Borshein, who spent some of her time in Florence creating amazing street paintings like this Caravaggio classic St John the Baptist with a Ram that is on display in the Capitoline Museum in Rome.
I admire these artists not only for perfectly re-creating incredible drawings on city pavements surrounded people looking over their shoulders with cameras, but their brave detachment from their art knowing each one will soon deteriorate and disappear forever.