While at UCL I’ve been doing a lot more walking than I ever do at Caltech. To keep myself entertained on these walks I listen to music and people watch, but my favorite pass time is to spot graffiti. Frequently it’s very obvious (like in the picture below), but there are lots of little pieces higher up on buildings that are easy to miss if you’re not looking for it specifically. London and Paris are both covered in graffiti and some of it is actually very good. Easy to recognize pieces are those by Bansky, Shepard Fairey (of President Obama poster fame), and Space Invader.
Here I am standing next to a piece by Banksy just a minute from my dorm:
These are my two favorite bits of street art that I saw in Paris:
These last three pieces were in the blocks around the modern art museum in Paris. I enjoy the juxtaposition of the museum’s institutionalized art and the street art surrounding it.
While I was in the modern art museum I saw pieces from the Dada movement. I don’t claim to understand Dadaism, but ever since I learned about it in my English class freshman year it’s held a fond place in my heart. As far as I can tell, one aspect of Dadaism was a disdain for formal art, including the relegation of art to the museum. The irony of finding a room on Dadaism in the modern art museum made me smirk. I was really excited to see this famous Dada piece, Fountain (1917), by Marcel Duchamp, (yes, it’s a urinal) while in Paris:
Looking out for street art, remembering my class from three years ago about Dadaism, and living in such a vibrant city as London fills me with a deep joy. Study abroad is an opportunity to really suck the marrow out of something as simple as a walk through the city.