Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I often walk by this stately apartment building on rue Chavent, a quiet street in Lyon. The building dates from 1937. It is quite big, with two entrances, balconies on every floor and unlike many buildings, it's set back from the sidewalk and has lots of trees in front of it.

I was coming back from the post office on Saturday morning when I looked across the street and saw the faces. I had taken the same street to the post office but didn't notice anything. But I had to stop and smile...faces had been painted on the tops of the posts. They looked like over-sized playskool people standing there, smiling, frowning, some even crying.

Graffiti is usually cleaned up really quickly in Lyon, at least on the "nice" streets. I thought these faces would be gone the same day, but when I returned to take some photos in the afternoon, there they were. They were there on Sunday too, and Monday.

Perhaps it was the holiday weekend that caused the clean-up delay.
I didn't take that street today. Since the post office is closed for six months, I had to go to another post office, in the opposite direction. I'll have to check tomorrow. I hope they stay.

What do you think about graffiti? Is it art or is it vandalism?


  1. That's a good question. Perhaps in it's most common form it is often used for self-promotion/advertisement or worship (music groups, gangs) which doesn't neccessarily make it art, to me. However, when it can transend a certain je ne sais pas, as in those in the photos you have made, then it is indeed art, short-lived, which gives it a freshness and lends it poignancy.

  2. Yes, I agree, Dawn. I thought these faces were so cute, spontaneous, and as you say, short-lived that I wanted to document them. I'm curious about the artist(s), but then again, not knowing about them adds to the freshness.

  3. Ha! They look cute! :)
    Often graffiti is vandalism. Often it's art. I have to say, though, that it's probably more often vandalism. At least what I can see here in Austria ...

  4. It very much depends on whom you ask, to the maker it is invariebly and expression of self and as such art. But to a passer by it most often is vandalism. I think it is part of urban lore, many people compressed in a small space all vying for attention of sorts. I often don't find it pretty, but that makes it no less art.

  5. I love graffiti, when it is not a vandalism: a really good pictures on permitted places.

  6. I have seen amazing Graffiti's especially when I was still living in Amsterdam but others are horrible and more vandalism then art. Depends a bit of the location and the way they did it.

  7. I would have to say both. Sometimes I think it is ugly and other times I love it... :)

    I have tagged you! Please visit my blog to learn more and play along!
    ~Emily xx

  8. I agree with Ravenhill. In this case I think they are cute, but after the novelty wears off I'd want it gone.

  9. I thought they were cute, but, they definitely had to be cleaned up after a while. Brought a smile to my face, also. You live in such a nice area. I envy you. Such architechtural beauty to behold everyday. Take care.

    Rosemary, Garden Gate Designs

  10. By the way, the faces are still there today! I can hardly believe they haven't been erased!