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Enough of curated exhibitions in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Leopold Collection and the Mumok? Then it's time to get to know the other Vienna: the Vienna that is not at all dusty and in love with tradition, but cheeky, dirty and unexpected. In recent years, Vienna has evolved from a street art insider tip to a city with a vibrant scene that radiates beyond its own city walls. Depending on who you ask, there are between 100 and 200 graffiti sprayers in Vienna that give character to the walls of the capital.
In the past, it was only possible to marvel at original works by sprayers along the Danube Canal, the city's first legal sprayer area. In the meantime there are now numerous works of art scattered all over the city - and completely free to admire. These include local greats such as Skril, Ruin, Ms. Isa and Nychos , as well as international artists such as Jana & JS, Invader from France and Stinkfish from Colombia. One of the reasons is that house-owners and businesses have realised that wall design is worth gold. Even the international superstar Banksy has already been here - with his "Smiley Soldier" in the Schleifmühlgasse. His work was however removed in 2010.
The heart of Viennese street art can be found in the 7th and in the surrounding 6th and 8th districts, where the "Bobos" - the eco-conscious and style-conscious free spirits, aka the "bourgeois bohemians" - live. Around each street corner a freely composed graffiti meets the eye - small stencil sprayed pictures (stencil art) and high murals covering the whole façade. The murals are sprayed by several artists together and the spraying area is legally provided by the city. Unfortunately the Galerie Inoperable, the pioneer of the modern street art scene in Vienna, closed its doors in 2014. But in the 6th and 7th district its successors are avidly at work. Street art no longer belongs only to the street, but has long since moved into the galleries - such as the Urban Space Gallery and the Gallery Oxymoron.
Even homeowners and real estate developers have long understood that a sprayed area can mean an increase in value. An example of this can be found in the 6th district. A lofts developer in the Hornbostelgasse thought that the ugly firewall opposite was too much for his - and hired international graffiti artists to beautify it. The result can be found in Hornbostelgasse 9: a beautiful work depicting a photographer and his Polaroids.
But there are also exciting works of art outside of the Bobo districts. An outstanding mural is the polar bear by the internationally hip young Styrian artist, Nychos. He painted the anatomical study, which is typical for him, on an unattractive house wall in the 10th district in the Knöllgasse / Quellenstraße 156 - so far the only place where he was legally allowed to install such a large mural in Vienna. If you are travelling with the U4 in Vienna, it is worth getting off at the Margaretengürtel station to marvel at his work after a short walk. Football fans can admire a large mural with the face of footballer David Alaba in Vienna’s Donaustadt - signed by the player himself, of course. If you do not want to rattle around with the tram 25, take the U2 to Aspernstraße and continue to Langobarden Straße 170.
But it does not have to be just the big works. If you keep your eyes peeled, you'll find houses scattered all over the city with small mosaics at the height of the street signs: they represent the space invaders from the eponymous video game and were placed here by the French artist Invader in 2006 and 2008. Incidentally, besides Vienna, his mosaics can also be found in New York, Paris and Rome. So watch out: there are 56 space invaders to discover in Vienna.
No matter what you decide on, it is important to keep your eyes open and your camera at the ready for your next walk in Vienna. Maybe the next work of art is being created right now ...
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