In the last twelve months, we have tried bring to you all the exciting, stunning, beautiful, risky and different works from the streets around the globe. You’ve traveled with us and our favorite artists, who left their signature works wherever they went. At the end of each week, we collected the most popular murals based on your opinion and after 52 weeks of amazing art, we have come to an end. This time, we decided to find out who were the artists you loved the most throughout the year. We went through every artwork in 2014, and compared your votes. Finally, based on your “likes” on our Facebook page, perhaps not that surprisingly, it was Banksy who marked the year behind us! Only few votes away was the fantastic Polish street art duo Etam Cru who are conquering the urban art scene in a big style. This is where we realized to choose the 10 most popular murals of the year would be impossible and decided to expand the list. Etam Cru marks another spot on our list, just like the South African street artist Faith47. Other artists whose murals made you laugh or stop and think were made by Saner, Pakone, Mr. Thoms, Handiedan, Young Jarus, Phlegm and Nychos. To see in which order, check out our gallery and enjoy!
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Topping our 2014 list of the most popular murals is a piece by the ultimate street art superstar Banksy, whose works obviously still get a lot of public attention. One of the most beloved artists out there proved once again why he is considered to be probably the most controversial artist of our generation. On one April morning, Bristol based artist showed up in Cheltenham, UK and left a brand new piece entitled “Spy Booth”. The stunning work features three government secret agents quietly spying on various phone conversations. As usual with Banksy, the subject of the work is not accidental. Known as an artist with bold and sociopolitical opinion he’s not afraid to share with the world, this piece also tackles some of the most intriguing issues that UK has been struggling with at the moment. This one is a direct and strong statement against the privacy issues UK has experienced with the NSA. The city of Cheltenham wasn’t randomly chosen either, it is the home of the GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters). Just when you thought that our favorite British artist has taken a break from the street art, he surprises us and reminds why he is the king of street art!
A true example that the Polish urban art scene is growing by the day, the artistic duo Etam Cru combined of artists Sainer and Bezt definitely had one spectacular year behind them. After participating in numerous street art festivals, commissioned projects, two solo exhibitions in Italy and Spain, the guys from Etam Cru managed to stop by Norway and paint this fantastic piece somewhere on the streets of Oslo. Invited by the Urban Samtidskunst, the Polish street art duo painted an amazing figurative mural depicting a small boy brushing his teeth in front of a sink filled with his imagination. Inside the sink is a raging ocean with huge waves nearly turning over the red-blue ship and knocking over board a small Lego man into the sky. Next to the faucet stands the ferocious beat from Japan, Godzilla. Despite the thrilling scenery before him the boy remains undeterred and continues with his morning routine.
Another piece that was very much loved by our Facebook followers was the one done in Norway. Done as a part of the Nuart Street Art Festival, the piece entitled “First Day of School” show some of their hyper-clean signature imagery for the locals to enjoy. This fairy tale of a mural shows a sleeping student who has already eaten his apple, and whose bananas, sandwich and Kiepling’s “The Jungle Book” have fallen out of his backpack on top of which is a hatted mouse. A perfect gift for every pupil and, why not, their parents and a fantastic reminder of how wonderful school days are. Great job!
A South African graffiti artist Faith47 is known for her socially engaged murals. Faith47’s early work was inspired primarily by the social realities in her country. In her later work, the human relationship to animals and nature are the themes that are more recurring. This mural done in June in London attracted a lot of attention on social media thanks to the wonderful technique and approach to work. For this particular piece, Faith47 stopped by the streets of East London and painted several superb new pieces, including this one featuring an incredible unicorn which you will be able to find around Hackney Wick and the Truman Brewery. Not only does she travel the world with her art, but she also tries to find the beauty in abandoned spaces that resonate through her work.
Faith47 is definitely loved by her fans which proves her second mural on our list! Right after her stunning mural that ended up number three on our list, the South African street artist stopped by Tunisia for the Djerbahood project in the small city of Djerba. Faith47 quickly painted this beautiful and ghostly Unicorn for the locals to enjoy. The beautiful piece entitled “Hunt Her” was, following the artist’s tradition, painted in an abandoned and forgotten place, adding a breath of life to the environment and the sad surroundings. The Djerbahood project is organised by Gallery Itinerance.
Mexican artist Saner was in August in Australia where he was invited by the Form Festival to paint on the streets of Perth. Painting at the Food For Me Cafe in East Vic Park, this widely recognized muralist, painter, illustrator and graphic artist dropped his beautiful piece showing the lovely embrace of a couple wearing traditional Mexican masks. Using vivid colors that have become his recognizable style, Saner again didn’t disappoint us. “I am from Mexico and when I saw pictures of Perth and Australia I was really interested in creating stories, through murals, for the people; Sometimes I take things from the countries I visit and mix them up, trying to show my vision of the world” Saner said. His dedication, hard work and talent gained him a number four on our annual list.
The Italian street artist Mr. Thoms is known for his illustrative and comical painting style. His fantastic work from July picks up on the theme of social media and the so often criticized obsession for recognition within the social network. The mural depicts an enchained character with Facebook blinders beside his head. The harness that holds these blinders also holds the “like” thumb attached to a road that dangles in front of the figurines face. The expression on his face distinctly indicates his obsession for the object of desire that is so close but not to be reached. The “Like A Vision” mural was, paradoxically voted our number five at the 2014 list thanks to your “likes” on Facebook.
Over the past several months, arts organization Urban Nation has been inviting international artists and curators to do what they want with their large, interdisciplinary Berlin venue, Project M – a building utilized as a canvas from the inside out. Some of the artists involved were Ben Eine, who did an amazing large-scale mural and surrounding it, several smaller ones by Above, Ben Frost, Klone, Yoh Nagao and many others. The latest one done on arguably one of the coolest buildings in the German capital was by the Amsterdam-based collage artist Handiedan who did this breathtaking, large scale mural, right next to Eine’s. While her typical work consists of smaller pieces, textured collages of vintage pin-up girls with baroque flourishes, she effortlessly adapted this style to a large format. Well deserved spot number six!
Pakone’s first appearance in Street Update was back in June when the French graffiti artist was invited to Brest in France curated by Lilliwen to partake in the street art project Crimes of Mind. His contribution to the beautification of the harbor city was this pink tree with 3-D graffiti abstractions in its crown. The small boy is standing at the roots of the tree is watering this magnificent pink tree. The leaves floating away from the tree add to the illusion of three-dimensionality. This effective and very vibrant and fun mural definitely connected with our Facebook members as the piece has ranked as number 7 on our annual list.
The creator of our favorite street art figures Phlegm was invited by ArtScape Festival to Malmö to paint his signature characters and beautify the city. The mural done in July this year shows the ‘Phlegm characters’ climbing up ladders and ropes to the top a building. Phlegm magnificently integrates his figures to the façade details of the building. Making some of sit on top of the window ledges or climb around the balcony. The huge scale of the mural becomes apparent when you look at the real man climbing up the lamppost at the bottom of the artwork. His unique style, unbelievable technique as well as the recognizable signature characters are what makes the work of Phlegm one of a kind. Keep up the good work!
Austrian street art legend Nychos finished this stunning mural in Vienna, Austria in just a few days and once again proved why he is considered to be one of the best artists in the street art scene today. His super clean and detailed works featuring objects, humans, animals and even comic characters through the process of dissection are something Nychos was always interested in , “I was so into skeletons – my dad and grandpa were both hunters, so looking at a deer skeleton was daily business, it was normal to me”. Believing that art has to make you laugh but also tell a story, Nychos always manages to combine and blend the two in a best possible way.
After the amazing job he did in Mexico earlier this year, the Canadian street artist Young Jarus landed in his home town, Toronto for another amazing project. In a collaboration with his fellow artist Rudjer, Young Jarus made this fantastic large scale mural portraying a girl calmly laying in a bed, dressed in white and, if looked from a distance, it almost looks like a photograph. But contemporary realism achieved with spray paint isn’t something new for Jarus. The Canadian artist is famous for this highly realistic murals and portraits of ordinary women. This makes Young Jarus the last one on our list for this year. No matter how you rank them, the fact is that we are witnessing a fantastic period for urban and street art and we are glad to be a part of it! See you in 2015!