Jef Aérosol’s Monumental Street Art at Place Stravinsky

We decided to spend our first morning in Paris at the Centre Pompidou, which is my favorite modern art museum in the world. So we ate some buttery croissants for “le petit déjeuner” and went from La Fourche to the Rambuteau metro, then walked down Rue Beaubourg to get a view of the the colorful pipes and ducts that make up the Pompidou’s exterior. The museum looks like an inside-out building.

But before heading into the Pompidou, we decided to do a quick walk around the Igor Stravinsky Fountain, which has some of the most colorful and whimsical sculptures that I’ve ever seen — a few of which are mechanical and move while spraying water. It’s called the Stravinsky Fountain because the sculptures are all inspired by Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” And out of the pieces in the fountain, my favorites are “L’Oiseau de Feu” (the firebird), “Le Chapeau de Clown” (the clown’s hat), and “La Sirène” (the mermaid). La Sirène makes me smile and laugh the most. You can guess why.

As we started strolling through Place Stravinsky, I looked a little beyond the fountain and found, to my delight, an unmistakeable Jef Aérosol stencil graffiti art that spanned the entire length of a building’s wall. The face — which had a finger to his lips as if shushing the entire square — was undoubtedly Jef’s; and his signature red arrow pointing up to his right eye, which I could see from the far end of the Stravinsky Fountain, confirmed it.

(I did a Google search and found this time lapse video of how Jef created the giant stencil. I also found out that the 4th arrondissement city hall asked Jef to paint this mural. That’s how famous he is! Check out this site with more information about “Fresque Monumentale Par Jef Aérosol.”)

Jef Aérosol is one of my favorite street artists, and I can say that we sort of have a history. We connected via Flickr a few years ago, and during our last trip to Paris in 2008, I went on a street art “scavenger hunt” — with directions to various artwork all over the city emailed to me from Jef. It was a really awesome experience.

So you can imagine how exciting it was for me to see this gigantic stencil of Jef’s face on our first morning in Paris at our first stop of our vacation. It was a super cool discovery that I took as a sure sign that we were going to have an awesome vacation in Paris.

[Below is the official video on the making of “CHUUUTTT!”]