The City that Never Sleeps, the Big Apple, and the Center of the Universe: New York City goes by a myriad of names. However, one thing it is not identified by is its art. From the great Met to excellent New York web design companies, New York is an exhibitor of numerous forms of art.
One art form that gives New York its distinct charm is its flamboyant street art. Street art emerged in New York in the 1970s when the city was plagued with crime, perhaps as a splashy, picturesque response to the disorder.
Today, New York boasts dazzling street art by renowned artists and amateurs alike. Some of the most aesthetic street art in New York City includes:
Bowery Graffiti Wall
Location: Houston St at Bowery, Manhattan
A man riding a horse, bright green trees, blooming flowers, and a full yellow moon are some elements that catch your eye as it falls on the Bowery Graffiti Wall.
If you look at the painting longer, you might see a lovely cherry blossom, blue birds, and any number of features embedded into the painting. The longer you look at the painting, the more it catches your fancy.
The wall currently features a scene painted by Brooklyn-based Japanese artist Tomokazu Matsuyama. After being worked on by Keith Haring in 1982, this wall has been painted by numerous artists including Banksy and Shepard Fairey.
The Audubon Mural Project
Location: 133rd St to 165th St, Manhattan
The Audubon Mural Project seeks to highlight the dangers of climate change through art. As a result, buildings on Broadway from the 133rd to 165th streets are graced with images of exquisite North American bird species that are threatened by global warming.
With intricate plumage painted in bright colors, the project not only brings color to the city, but also alerts onlookers to the very real dangers of global warming.
2 World Trade Center
Location: Financial District, Manhattan
The mural on the foundation of 2 World Trade Center provides a much needed splash of color to the otherwise dreary Financial District. Currently under construction, the building features a metal shed of popping colors.
Although the painting changes every now and then, it always features bright colors, often inspired by anime and pop art.
Gandhi and Mother Teresa Mural
Location: 18th St and Tenth Ave, Chelsea
Many of Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra’s paintings pay homage to global figures who have made a difference. One such painting is his depiction of Gandhi and Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun recognized for her missionary and charity work in India, while Gandhi was a non-violent anti-colonial pro-independence activist. The contributions of both have immeasurable importance, and Kobra has paid them a befitting tribute through his mural.
Location: 192 Mott St, Manhattan
Pink, blue, lavender, purple, yellow, orange, and green – overlapping hearts set against a black background, the Love Wall of New York is among the most aesthetic places in New York. Especially for those who want a nice picture for the gram, the Love Wall is an ideal location.
It is hard to imagine something so beautiful was created by accident when artist James Goldcrown was testing the pressure of spray paint cans by drawing hearts in his studio!
The Tiger Near Fulton Street
Location: Near Fulton St, Manhattan
Growling ferociously at passersby, the majestic tiger on the garage door of a firehouse represents the courage of the firefighters of New York.
Painted in bright red and orange, the tiger is super eye catching, and is sure to make a fierce background for your pictures.
Desigual Flagship Store
Location: Sixth Avenue and 35th St, Manhattan
In 2019, the Spanish firm Desigual reopened its flagship store in New York with a stunning storefront by artist Okuda San Miguel.
Miguel uses two dimensional and three dimensional shapes as well as a variety of colors, patterns and scripts to create an image that attests to the multiculturality of the city. Although painted for a storefront, Miguel’s mural is arguably one of the most spectacular paintings in the city.
The King of NY mural
Location: Bedford Ave and Quincy St, Brooklyn
Whether you are a fan of rap or not, you will enjoy seeing a three-story tall painting of the rapper Notorious B.I.G, more commonly known as Biggie Smalls.
Smalls was born in Brooklyn in 1972 and had a tough life. He began rapping as a teenager and climbed “the ladder to success elevator style.” The mural on Bedford Ave and Quincy St is a testament to Biggie’s success. What could be a more befitting memorial for one of the greatest rappers of all time?
Location: Fordham Rd, The Bronx
Located at 650 E Fordham St, Tuff City is a famous tattoo shop. But it is also so much more.
At the back of the tattoo shop is a 45-foot long subway train car replica that serves as a backdrop for local artists to paint as per their heart’s desires. As a result, from monstrous sea dragons to anime characters, this mural contains diverse work from different artists.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
Location: Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
The vibrant, larger-than-life artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera have been represented as such, by Kobra in a mural in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The faces of the two Mexican artists are merged into one. An ode to the intriguing passion they shared.
Kobra has borrowed some elements from Kahlo’s own self-portraits, including the ubiquitous flowers in her hair. In doing so, the muralist has created a perfect tribute to the distinguished duo.
The Graffiti Hall of Fame
Location: Park Ave, Manhattan
Standing since the 1980s, the Graffiti Hall of Fame is named just that for a reason: it showcases stunning graffiti from top artists around the world.
Apart from paintings inscribed within the word HARLEM, the wall pays homage to Harlem’s street culture. From hip-hop artists to school scene paintings, the wall is a colorful depiction of the locality.
It is best to visit the Graffiti Hall of Fame on the weekends as most paintings extend into a schoolyard.
Whether you are a fancy art connoisseur or someone who knows very little about the subject, graffiti is accessible to all. Perhaps the best quality of this art form is that it takes the elitism out of art, and presents work that can be enjoyed by anyone.
In New York City, graffiti serves to underscore the city’s multi-cultural and diverse nature. Its most famous murals are painted by artists from all over the world, and many murals pay tribute to global heroes.
If you came to explore the culture of New York and the melting pot nature of the United States, enjoy art in general, or simply want aesthetic pictures for your social media, these 11 graffiti spots will not disappoint!