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Artist of the Week - Thierry Noir

November 6, 2014
Sanja Lazic was born in 1990 in Belgrade, Serbia. Her interest in art comes from a very early age and although she didn’t have the talent to pursue it professionally, she enjoys every day working and writing about it. Her favorite urban artists are Interesni Kazki, Saner and Phlegm.

He’s considered to be the Godfather of European Street Art. He is a social activist, an artist and a key forerunner of the modern street art movement. It all started in 1982 when the 24-year-old art enthusiast Thierry Noir came to Berlin attracted by the music of David Bowie and Iggy Pop. The place he stayed in by coincident overlooked the Wall at the border of East and West Berlin. One day in 1984, Noir spontaneously started to paint the Wall and continued to do so each day for five years with whatever paint he could scavenge from nearby construction sites. Noir’s aim was not to embellish the Wall but to demystify it. As he said, “I wanted to cover the wall with colors to wrap it up with paintings, to make it luminous, to show it like a mutation in the city, a mutation in art and nature. One hundred and thirty people were killed trying to jump over the Berlin Wall to escape West Berlin, so it cannot be beautiful”. His wall art became a symbol of fighting and resistance and since then, everyone knew who Thierry Noir was. But his passion for change and art in general didn’t disappear with the demolition of the wall. Noir has been working non-stop ever since. Only in the last couple of months Thierry Noir participated in numerous high profile exhibitions, events and projects: From April to May Howard Griffin Gallery in London hosted a large scale retrospective for him; In July, he was one of the privileged to be invited for a project Baroque the Streets; October was reserved for a huge project in Los Angeles – Thierry Noir: The LA Retrospective; and upcoming for the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is being celebrated, Noir will paint a piece resembling the one that 25 years ago made him a legend he is now. Thierry Noir is our Artist of the Week!

Thierry Noir: 25 Years Mauerfall
The view into East Berlin from the bedroom window of Thierry Noir’s squat.

Baroque the Streets

With an aim to build bridges between contemporary street art and classical art, a project named Street Art London gathered in July 2013 some of the world’s best street artists and invited them to paint some of the classical art paintings in their own, signature way. Participating artists were many, starting with Stik, to ROA, REKA, Conor Harrington, Phlegm, Pablo Delgado, Faith47, Christiaan Nagel and many, many more, being crowned with legends like Thierry Noir who changed the look of Joseph receiving Pharaoh’s Ring reducing it to his recognizable flat figures, but maintaining the key element, which is the composition and the emotion. All of them contributed with their own visions, through which glimpses of baroque heritage is seen. ROA’s shitting dog has proven one the most controversial, a slap in the face to conventions, but it’s actually there, in the Dulwich Picture Gallery, in the painting Landscape with Sportsmen and Game by Adam Pynacker from 1665.

Artist of the Week - Thierry Noir
Joseph receiving Pharaoh’s Ring
Artist of the Week - Thierry Noir
Thierry Noir’s interpretation of Joseph receiving Pharaoh’s Ring

London Retrospective

Howard Griffin Gallery tends to exhibit artists who aim to redefine public art, and make it independent from art institutions and the elitist circles created by the art market. The fact that Thierry Noir attracted the attention of the gallery’s owner Richard Howard-Griffin is therefore not surprising. They started collaborating in 2012, after Howard-Griffin sought out Noir in Berlin. The gallerist was in the German capital working on a mural project when he saw Noir’s pieces on the East Side Gallery, the only part of the wall that remained grey until the 1990, because it was inaccessible to the westerners. They met, which resulted in an invitation addressed to Noir to paint walls in London, and consequently, in this retrospective exhibition.

Howard Griffin Gallery
Thierry Noir – Blue Fast Form Manifest

LA retrospective

After having a successful debut at the Howard Griffin Gallery in London this spring, the artist moved to the West Coast of the USA, preparing another show – Thierry Noir: The LA Retrospective. The intelligent, progressive art of Thierry Noir was presented to the Los Angeles public for the first time, in the organization of Howard Griffin Gallery of London, the second solo exhibition in the year of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, honored on November 9, and the 30th anniversary of Noir’s wall painting beginnings in enclosed German capital. Thierry Noir: The LA Retrospective opened on October 9 will represent an overview of the artist’s career displayed alongside his new works. The week before, Thierry Noir painted a 700 sq ft commemorative mural on South Spring Street, endowing Los Angeles with yet another wall painting, addressing the long-standing Sister City relationship the American city shares with Berlin.

Howard Griffin Gallery
Thierry Noir mural on South Spring Street. The mural is the longest mural that Noir has painted since painting the Berlin Wall in the 1980s.

Collaboration with the German Embassy

Through the collaboration with the German Embassy in London, Thierry Noir will paint the surface on both sides of the Wall surrounding German Embassy in Belgravia Square. This unique commission will mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The exclusive preview event happens today, November 6th 2014, and the public view will be available during the entire day of November 12th 2014. Apart from the commission by Thierry Noir, the event will be accompanied by an exhibition of photographs, taken in East Berlin shortly before the fall of the Wall. The photographs were taken by Gerald Zörner, during the events which directly preceded the fall.

Thierry Noir: 25 Years Mauerfall
Thierry Noir in 1985 at the Berlin Wall in front of his artwork

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