Street Art Faces in Montmartre

from the Artsology series The Arts Adventurer

For someone who studied art history in college, the idea of walking the streets of Montmartre in Paris holds great appeal for several reasons: it's the neighborhood in Paris where Picasso invented cubism at his studio, La Bateau Lavoir. One can walk by his studio and imagine seeing him on Rue Ravignan. It's the same neighborhood where - if one were visiting in the early 1900's - one might also see Modigliani, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, or Apollinaire walking the streets.

However, as I was walking the streets of Montmartre in 2012, there was someone else whose presence seemed to envelope the neighborhood. Everywhere I turned, I found him looking out from various vantage points on buildings throughout the neighborhood. Scroll down for more ...

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I'll share these in the order that I found them, and try to pinpoint locations when possible. My first spotting of a mysterious 3-D head attached to a building came on Rue Garreau, just about a block away from La Bateau Lavoir. It's actually a little hard to make this first one out as face (below left), as someone has attempted to extract it from the wall, and in chipping away at it, cut off the lower-left portion of the face, revealing all of these red surfaces ... it's almost like a bloody attack, which no doubt contributed to my noticing it in the first place.

The next spotting of a similar face (below right), took place on Rue Foyatier, and this one allows you to see much better what the street art face actually looks like - a very realistic and life-size face, painted in a unique way and attached to the wall. As you can see, someone has tried to chip this one off the wall as well, but didn't make as much a mess as the previous example.

two examples of Gregos Street Art Faces in Montmartre

Let me say here, there was a lot of street art in all forms all around Montmartre, but at this point, after two spottings of this mysterious face, I was on the look-out for more. This next one included two faces as well as a hand, and a caption that reads "Yo! No no superflower." This installation was found off of Square Nadar near the Sacré Coeur Basilica.

Gregos Street Art Faces inside flowers on a wall in Montmartre

Gregos Street Art face inside a flower in Paris

detail view of a hand from a Gregos Street Art piece

The more I walked around, the more I saw this face. Here's another pair: below left, I found this one near Rue D'Orchampt, and below right, I found this one - with a heart on his forehead - near Rue Germain Pilon.

Gregos Street Art face seen in Montmartre in Paris

Gregos Street Art face with a heart on his forehead in Montmartre

So, who was this artist? As I was walking around Montmartre, I didn't have a clue. There was no clear ID at any of these locations, no signatures, no names tagged nearby, just these faces mounted to walls in all sorts of locations, up high, down low, all of them located in and around Montmartre. It wasn't until I returned home to the United States that I happened upon this artist's identity while on Instagram: his name is Gregos, and he's a self-taught artist. According to his website, he grew up in the northern suburbs of Paris (Gonesse, Villiers le Bel), and his first exploration in creating street art consisted of graffiti painting during the late 1980's and early 1990's. In 1997, after 2 years in Athens, Greece, he started experimenting with sculpting and molding techniques. In 2003, he moved to the States and settled in Boston, where he started making acrylic and oil paintings. He returned to Paris in 2006, and resumed his street art, and what you're seeing above (and below) are replications of his own face, painted in different styles, depending on his mood.

gold Gregos face street art in Montmartre

Gregos street art as seen in Montmartre

See more of our arts adventures in Paris here!

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