Best Street Art and Graffiti Legal or Illegal Art
Street art or graffiti – art or vandalism? Some graffiti painters are true artists and some of the walls are so beautiful that they deserve a place in a modern art gallery. Only in one place in Prague are grafitti artists welcome to legally paint on a wall: the Tesnov Wall near Florenc metro station. Until July 2019, the John Lennon Wall on Kampa Island was also a place where anyone had permission to spray graffiti. Now only recognized artists are allowed to add street art decorations.
Graffiti and Street Art in Prague
Street art and graffiti come and go. There are many walls and buildings in Prague with artistic graffiti and street art. Sometimes the owner has the wall cleaned, and sometimes the wall or building is demolished and the artwork disappears of its own accord.
Six permanent street art murals
1. John Lennon Wall
2. Tesnov graffiti wall
3. Operation Anthropoid mural
4. Vltavska metro station street art
5. Bohumil Hrabal Wall
6. The one-eyed Zizka
John Lennon Wall
The John Lennon Wall in Prague is a top tourist attraction. Everyone contributed, but public graffiti was not the intention of the wall at all.
After Lennon’s murder in 1980, someone drew a portrait of Lennon on the wall and wrote a few lyrics along with it. At that time in Czechoslovakia, the music of the Beatles was a symbol of peace and freedom, and this became the general message of the wall. It was not just the painting and writing on the wall that was offensive according to the regime, any reference to the West was forbidden. The wall became a meeting place for young music lovers, music banned by the regime.
Until the summer of 2019, everyone was allowed to spray graffiti and write messages on the wall. Gradually, more and more graffiti and slogans appeared that had nothing to do with peace and freedom. And therefore, spraying graffiti on the wall was prohibited. Professional graffiti artists were commissioned to decorate the wall. Private messages by individuals written only in chalk or pen are still allowed in designated areas.
Address: Velkoprevorske namesti, Nove Mesto, Prague
2. Tesnov Wall
The Tesnov Wall is next to a parking lot at the bottom of Wilsonova, a series of elevated thoroughfares. A deserted place at night, but safe because of the good street lighting. Come during the day, when you want to see the graffiti works of art in all their glory. And every time you pass by, there is a different work of art. Graffiti and street art is Art on the Move.
Address: near metro station Florenc, intersection with Sokolovska street and Ke Stvanici streets.
3. Wall on Vychovatelna Street in the Liben District
The graffiti on this wall is a combination of a comic strip and graffiti and pays tribute to the Czechoslovakian paratroopers Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík who were the main players in the assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich on 27 May 1942. The bend in the street near the wall is the place where the attack took place.
In December 1941, Kubiš and Gabčík, together with seven other Czech soldiers, arrived from Great Britain in Czechoslovakia on a secret mission: Operation Anthropoid. Their goal was to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, Reich Protector of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during World War II. The assassination attempt took place as Heydrich drove his car from his villa in the north of Prague to his work address, Prague Castle.
The attack was only partially successful: Heydrich was wounded and died a few days later. Initially, the resistance fighters hid in the Cyril and Methodius Church in Prague but their hiding place was discovered and they were killed in a firefight.
Address: Zenklova Street, Liben, Prague, near Vychovatelna tram stop
More about The assassination attempt on Heydrich and the resistance of the parachutists
4. Vltavska Metro Station
Vltavska metro station is certainly not one of the most beautiful spots in Prague, but the street art on the outside walls is a feast for the eyes. As with most graffiti and street art, the murals change regularly.
The Prague City Gallery and Prague Public Transport Company are collaborating here on an open-air gallery: street art on the outside walls of the metro station. Every three months the existing murals are painted over. Real enthusiasts regularly come to have a look.
Address: Vltavska metro station on line C
5. Bohumil Hrabal Wall
Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) is one of the most important figures in Czech and international literature. His books have been translated into 25 languages, and about 10 have been made into films. The ‘Hrabal Wall’ is a tribute to the writer, and at the exact spot where once his house stood.
The wall consists of four parts connected by cats, Hrabal’s favourite pet. A bookcase is filled with books of Hrabal’s favourite writers, including Franz Kafka and Jaroslav Hasek, author of ‘The Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk’. The next panel shows Hrabal’s old Perkeo typewriter, the third part shows beer pubs where he was a regular. The last panel depicts a silhouette of Hrabal. The four parts are linked by quotations from his works.
Address: Na Hrázi, Libeň, Prague.
6. One-eyed Jan Žižka
Jan Žižka on horseback is a wall advertisement for the Bloody Blue Tattoo shop. This mural can be seen on the corner of U Pamatniku and Husitská. The tattoo parlour is located at 1 Husitská Street at the bottom of Žižka Hill.
Jan Žižka (1360-1424) was the leader of the Hussites. At the start of his military career, he lost an eye in combat. Later, on the hill of Vitkov, he defeated the army of Sigismund, the Roman-German king and Emperor. Vitkov Hill in the Žižkov district, named after Žižka, is home to the world’s largest equestrian statue: Žižka on horseback.
Address: U Pamatniku / Husitská, Zizlov, Prague
The mural at the tram loop at the Nádraží Hostivař stop is the work of the artist David Mazanec (1988). The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. Swimmers symbolize tram rides whose first stop is also the last stop. The work of art shows swimmers circling in endless day and night in loops, a reference to the tram loops.
Address: end or starting point of tram 22 and 26
Kosmos, a huge mural by artist Michal Škapa (1978), adorns a wall of the CTPark Prague Airport building in Kněževes adjacent to Václav Havel Prague Airport, from where the work can be seen best.
In the middle of the wall, a giant blue eye observes the main runway. The eye symbolizes order in the universe. Energy particles float towards a human head whose silhouette can be seen on the side of the artwork. The head absorbs this life energy and oversees the entire work.
The mural covers an area of 5,000 square meters, is 350 meters long and 15 meters high. It is the largest street art painting in the Czech Republic and one of the largest in the world.
Address: CTPark Prague Airport, Kněževes, adjacent to Václav Havel Airport
PUBLIC ART – art in public spaces
Public art is a collective term for
1. Tangible art: for example, the works of David Cerny that can be found in several places in Prague. It is often executed by commissioned artists.
2. Visual art: street art and graffiti
Differences between street art and graffiti
Both street art and graffiti artists use spray paint cans and public walls. Street art artists almost always have permission or create their work on commission. Street art is based on images and graffiti on words. While there are similarities between the two, they are two different art forms.
Photos: Marianne Crone