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wall art on back streets in marseille

Graffiti can be a scourge on a city. Tagging claims territory and has little to offer except a language for those who know its vocabulary. It is defacing.

A big disappointment, because I did not expect its prevalence,  when riding the train from Charles DeGaulle Airport to Paris, was the preponderance of graffiti on public and private buildings and on any space of any surface. It was everywhere.

Graffiti can seem crude and threatening when compared to public art, such as the sculptures in public squares and the paintings hung on walls inside and outside of buildings.

I compare most graffiti to a dog lifting his leg and peeing, marking.

However, as I noted on another occasion, graffiti and wall art can be very beautiful. Once I spent a day in the 13th arrondissement in Paris, looking at the graffiti and wall art on rue des Frigos. It is worth a visit although out of the way for most tourists.


What is the difference between wall art and graffiti? Wall art seems to entail images of faces and bodies and looks more like a large painting. Words and letters seem to appear less often than in graffiti. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)


In Marseille, France I spent one morning at the confluence of three streets—rue Bussy l’Indien, rue des Trois Rois, and rue André Poggioli. There, primarily along rue Bussy l’Indien, I saw one large mural after another. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

Graffiti was everywhere, but the wall art took the breath away.


By chance I saw one of these artists at work. I believe he has a studio nearby at the intersections of the streets I mentioned earlier.

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