Argentinian Urban Art: Free Graffiti Tour in Buenos Aires
Learn about the origins of graffiti as an example of urban art, and discover fantastic works in the streets of Buenos Aires with this route that combines art and architecture.
DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, offers you the best options to enjoy your stay in Argentina, one of the most splendid destinations in the southern hemisphere. We have already visited the neighborhood of San Telmo, in the city’s capital, to see the famous Mafalda statue. We also visited the world’s second most beautiful library: the Ateneo Gran Splendid. Today, we’ll discover another facet of the city through the graffiti paintings that decorate its buildings. Prepare your camera because you’ll need it!
What is Graffiti?
Unlike street art, graffiti has existed since very early times. It means “mark” or “inscription” and it doesn’t necessarily have an artistic purpose. The first works of graffiti were found in Egypt and Rome. For example, in some excavations in Pompey, nearly 10,000 works of graffiti were found! A curious fact is that graffiti was born in the cities. It was commonly used to show discontent in a public way, by writing or painting on the walls so that everyone could see it. Nowadays, this use of graffiti as a way of protest is still part of its essence.
History of Graffiti in the Sixties
The sixties were a very important decade for graffiti. During this time there were many protests around the world, such as the Civil Rights Movement in the USA, or the student protests in France and Mexico in 1968. These movements used walls as canvases to write messages and complaints. Some artists used their techniques to transform the appearance of public spaces, which influenced the development of graffiti in the seventies. During this time, there was a mass production of spray paint, which became the main tool for graffiti paintings all around the world. The internationalization of graffiti coincided with the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and with pop culture in the US in the 80s.
Graffiti and Architecture of Buenos Aires
Urban identity in the Argentinian capital was marked by the arrival of European immigrants, mainly Italian and Spanish, in the 19th century. They had an important influence on the country’s architectural style. In this sense, Buenos Aires looks like an extension of Europe. Designers such as Baron Hausmann drew inspiration from neoclassical Paris when they built the most emblematic monuments in Buenos Aires. Among them you can find Art Deco and Brutalist buildings such as the National Library of Recoleta.
Since the second half of the twentieth century, architecture in Buenos Aires, as in most capitals in Latin America, has been transformed, and many large-scale geometrical structures have been built. This has broadened the artistic possibilities for those who paint graffiti. In other words, nowadays urban artists can experiment in many different kinds of spaces and walls.
Urban Art Barrios in Buenos Aires
In Buenos Aires, graffiti is a legal practice since 2009. As long as a wall is considered suitable for painting and the owner grants permission, artists can set their imagination free. That’s why this city is one of the best places in the world to create and admire graffiti paintings.
DINKtravelers recommends you visit porteño areas where you’ll find many stores decorated with graffiti. The barrios or neighborhoods where you’ll find more graffiti in Buenos Aires are Palermo, Colegiales, La Boca, and Villa Crespo. Here the owners themselves have paid artists to create wonderful pieces of graffiti on their shops and restaurants to make them more attractive.
Graffiti in Buenos Aires seeks to establish a dialogue between the work itself and the city. That’s why sometimes artists use local plants or moss to create impressive moss graffiti on the walls. This kind of graffiti can be made entirely with vegetation or just include it.
Graffiti Tour in Buenos Aires
Since the year 2000 great areas have been developed with the purpose of housing urban art in Buenos Aires. Actually, today they are worldly famous tourist attractions. Plan a trip to Argentina and take a guided graffiti tour. You can book your reservation here. Also, if you want to try something unique, take a spray-painting lesson with expert graffiti artists. You can also walk around the city to discover incredible paintings such as the ones located in the following places:
#1 Industrial Neighborhood of Barras
It’s located in the southern part of the city. It’s known as the heart of Argentinian graffiti because in order to renew some old and abandoned industrial buildings, graffiti artists were allowed to decorate its walls with shapes and colors. Don’t forget your camera because there’s something to photograph in every corner. Take into account that there is no direct transportation to take you there. From the city center, take line C of the subway and get off at Constitución station. Three blocks from there you’ll find Montes de Oca Avenue, where you can also make a stop for shopping and dining. Try some traditional picaditas and pair them with a delicious grapa. End your visit at the Centro Metropolitano de Diseño (Design Metropolitan Center) located in a former seafood market at Algarrobo 1041. There you’ll find avant-garde fashion and furniture stores.
#2 Villa Urquiza
Located north of the city, there’s another important spot to find local graffiti. You can find it all around the neighborhood, but we recommend you visit the showrooms at different textile design factories. Our favorite is Sólo para mí, which is famous for its products’ artisanal quality. Find it at Roosevelt Av. 5558. Then, try some delicious alfajores at a local coffee shop.
Discover the urban side of Buenos Aires through its most colorful graffiti paintings. Follow our route and share your experience with us!