Just around the corner from where I am staying in Paris is this piece of street art. It’s a striking piece but what sparked my interest is the small painting inside the splatter of whatever the figure has apparently thrown at the wall.
The painting in that splatter is The Luncheon on the Grass by Édouard Manet. It was a controversial piece back in 1863 when it was first seen in public at the Salon des Refusés. Back then the lack of interaction between the nude woman casually lunching with two fully dressed men was shocking. Some thought the work depicted the flagrant prostitution that occurred in the Bois de Boulogne, a large park on the outskirts of Paris. Though prostitution was common knowledge in Paris at that time, it was a subject considered ‘off limits’ and most definitely unsuitable for a painting. Clearly, Édouard Manet was an artist not entirely ready to play by the rules and social expectations of his day.
The street art piece is called Vandal-ism and it was painted in 2014 by Spanish artist Sylvester Santiago who goes by the name Pejac. With a reputation for doing site-specific work with highly detailed and intricate paintings, Pejac proves that street art doesn’t necessarily have to mean graffiti.
The choice of location for this piece is no random happenstance. The street in the 13th arrondissement is, Rue Édouard Manet. It is, of course, named in honor of the artist who is said to have painted The Luncheon on the Grass in this very location; a location now marked by street art, a genre that some might say isn’t ready to play by the rules and social expectations of the day.
Stand in this location using Google streetview.