Buenos Aires is a great city for the visitor who enjoys a bit of hip, a bit of grit and a whole lot of street art. You can find the genteel side of Buenos Aires in the beautiful stately neighborhoods of the Retiro and Recoleta. But take a stroll in the San Telmo, Palermo Soho, Chacarita or Los Colegiales neighborhoods and you will get a hip scene with markets, cafes, bars and a big dose of urban art.
Buenos Aires street art is the pride of the city and a close look at the walls will reward you with colorful insight into the culture of the city.
These dudes were on their way to a political protest being hosted by the labor unions. It’s as if the character in the mural is pointing the way for them.
Buenos Aires Street Art Offers Great Variety
It’s stunning how much variety can be found in the size, style and subject matter of the street art.
Some of the murals are at a massive scale and impossible to ignore. Huge walls and buildings completely covered in art. But there also a lot of smaller, more subtle pieces made from small stencils or little sketches painted onto a bit of wall.
This huge mural covered the full flank of a 10 story apartment building.. Note the tagging and political flyers on the very bottom. There is a courtesy among artists not to cover each others’ work with graffiti in Buenos Aires, so these tags are just at the edge of the major work.
This whimsical submarine was commissioned by the building owner and the wrap around covers the full street frontage on both sides.
This cute little stencil was unobtrusively located on a wall and it exemplified the whimsy and humor that characterizes a lot of the street art in Buenos Aires.
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Each artist brings their own vision and method to their work. Sure, you can find the traditional tagging-style graffiti in Buenos Aires– but you’ll also see pieces using stencils and fully painted murals in painterly, cartoonish, geometric, fantastical and photo-realistic styles. If you can imagine it in a painting, you can put it on a wall.
I believe that this giraffe stencil was created by the artist Stencilland. Unlike the tiny dog stencil above, this one was large scale with 6 foot giraffes.
Note the traditional graffiti tags which are blended in with other styles.
This section of wall is a good representation of painted (rather than tagged or stenciled) murals. It is the collaboration of several different artists using the existing space to blend their work together.
If you have a few days for the city, check out this three day guide to Buenos Aires.
There are so many messages on display with Buenos Aires street art. You can find statements on the state of pop culture or meditations on traditional cultural myths. Buenos Aires is a very political city and the street art reflects that through protest messages and political flyers. In the Los Colegiales neighborhood, there are even personal messages written on the walls by a father to his children which the kids read as they walk to school.
There are constant protests of one sort or another at the downtown Casa Rosada government building and taggers here have made a visual statement on the fencing surrounding the plaza.
Here you’ll find pop culture with a side of rust.
The following is one of the most stunning and complex pieces of street art in Buenos Aires. Look carefully at this mural and you will see cultural myths of the Andes. Step back…and you will see something else altogether.
Graffiti Tours in Buenos Aires
You can do a DIY tour of street art in Buenos Aires by wandering the following locations
- Los Colegiales: on Jorge Newbery @ Conde and several blocks north. Also lap the block around the Mercado de las Pulgas.
- Palermo Soho: visit the Post Street Bar. They have murals inside, outside and all over the building. You can also explore the surrounding streets.
- Chacarita: near the railway line and surrounding streets.
- San Telmo: between San Juan/Avenida Independencia (south/north) and Avenida Paseo Colon/Peru (east/west).
Or you can take a guided Buenos Aires street art tour
- Graffiti Mundo offers several different graffiti tours. We took the one in the Los Colegiales/Palermo Soho neighborhood and loved it. They are a nonprofit that supports the artists by running the tours and providing gallery space. You can also check out their artist page for more great examples of local artists.
- Get Your Guide offers a three hour graffiti tour for small groups.
- Take all day general walking tour of Buenos Aires which will include Palermo, San Telmo, La Boca and other popular neighborhoods.
There are many cities with great street art. You can check out my posts on Chicago, Paris, London, Reykjavik, Estonia, Los Angeles, Nashville, Belfast, Havana, Bristol, San Francisco, San Diego and the best street art cities in the world. But I daresay that Buenos Aires is unique in the ubiquity and quality of its offerings. A visit there would not be complete without touring these four neighborhoods and checking out the murals.
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