Paris – Oddly Juxtaposed

The integrity and identity of historic urban spaces the world over, is under threat from unbridled growth and global integration.  Especially in third world countries, where cultural heritage takes a back seat to new found aspirations of development & progress, despite the efforts of conservation groups.

Street art in Place Igor Stravinsky - Paris
Street art in Place Igor Stravinsky, Paris

But when managed sensitively, it is the very contradictions and incongruities of changing urban landscapes that define the character of great cities and form the essence of their appeal.
This mural by Jeff ‘Aerosol’ (real name: Jean-Francois Perroy) titled “Chuuuttt!” (Ssshhh!)  is a self portrait that is not as it seems at first sight, an admonition to be silent, but his way of urging  people to stop and look around, to admire the beauty of a historic city, “to listen to the soundtrack of the urban world” that according to him is so much more than the sound of cars and police sirens!  The work that was inaugurated in 2011 took 4 days to complete, used 200 spray cans, 6 artists and covers 350m² of wall space. The red arrow on the cheek is apparently a recurring signature.

Does this juxtaposition work? You tell me.

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

132 thoughts on “Paris – Oddly Juxtaposed

  1. Wonderful imagery! Hard to beat Madhu. I’d better start looking through my photos to see what I can use for this week’s entry 😉
    Have a great weekend!

  2. Very interesting point! There is something thrilling and exciting when the modern is placed next to the old like in your photograph above, showing the continuum of creativity. Cities can’t remain museums, although preserving historical districts is important. I guess it’s all about keeping the best of everything!

    1. People and their perception of aesthetics is a continually evolving process, so a rigid attitude to conservation would never work. That said I find mindless ‘development’ very depressing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts MCD.

  3. It’s a pity that our heritage buildings in developing countries are gradually disappearing due the imbalance of forces of modernization and the forces of preservation 😦

    The picture here is a treat for the eyes 🙂

    1. Thank you Dilip. Does the concept of conservation of historic city centers exist at all in India? So many of our cities have already lost all original character. Bangalore is a prime example.

    1. Thank you Marianne. Shall pop over to read your CBBH post. I stopped linking to it, because I don’t always abide by the blog hop rules.

    1. I feel that way too most times Ann Christine. My first reaction is usually negative. But if I spend a while to really look at it it tends to grow on me. I have added a few more details about the mural and its artist if you are interested 🙂

    1. Thank you! I happened to have the right shot. I have an image of the same spot from 2008 that shows a bare white wall!

    1. Than you Gilly. Have updated details of the mural if you are interested. Was way too sleepy yesterday night 🙂

  4. What a great juxtaposition of tradition and progress, Madhu. But I really don’t like to see this kind of thing when I encounter it in my travels. The street art detracts from the ancient sense of solemnity that the Cathedral evokes. Great pic for the challenge!

    1. I feel that way at first too Cathy. But it does seem to work in some areas. I have an image of the same space from 2008, and the bare white wall where the mural now stands is certainly uglier. Never noticed it then! Viewed as a whole, with the Stravinsky fountain and the Pompidou centre, you have to admit, this is eclectic and funky 🙂

  5. It’s always difficulto to put together modern and old, classical and extroverted. I do love our european cieties very much, some of them (like Paris or Madrid) they had to accept pictorial disputes into “classical” spaces . If you want to emphasize, we may think even at the ancient walls and temples of Rome that arise everywhere inside the urban reality of this century… Serenity 🙂 claudine

    1. A few decades ago I would have hated this with a vengeance Claudine. My tastes have evolved since. I think I have become more open minded and accepting. And once I get over the initial shock, I quite enjoy the eclectic display. But only in certain settings. the same mural juxtaposed against the Notre Dame would have been shocking! Are you back from your trip to Egypt?

    1. Isn’t it? I should have posted the long shot including the funky Stravinsky fountain as well, to give an idea of how eclectic that area is.

    1. Thank you Stephen. A search just revealed the name of the artist: Jeff Aerosol (Jean-Francois Perroy) who has left his mark across several big cities including New York and even Beijing! Have just added a description to my post with the details. Thought you might be interested 🙂

    1. Thank you Ese. Balance is the magic word. I am kind of like a stuck record with that line on progress eating into heritage 🙂

    1. Rather complicated isn’t it? Have just added a description of the mural and its artist Kate. Was too sleepy yesterday to bother to Google.

  6. Whether it works or not… I can’t say. But it’s interesting… not offensive, really. Something to thin about.

    1. I wouldn’t attempt such extreme contrasts in my home for sure, but in a public space it appears less shocking somehow. Yes some thing to think about. I appreciate your visit and comment Shimon.

  7. Madhu, I was really struggling with this .. couldn’t get my head around the subject at all – you manage very well. *smile – this is great and well spotted. I think with this subject anything a bit odd goes.

    1. Thank you for the compliment Viveka! You do a great job too always. Have no doubt you will think of something brilliant. Have loads to catch up with over at your place. promise to visit soon. Hope your hind parts have been kind to you 🙂

    1. Yes it is. I wrote a piece on the changing rhythm of the town I grew up in sometime back. The speed of transformation is frightening. Thanks for sharing your thoights Valentin 🙂

  8. I love the commentary you’ve generated, Madhu! 🙂 I’m a little negative on Graffiti too sometimes. You’re right- this one takes a little thought. Busy times, for you?

    1. Very Jo. Have just been stopping by to post short photo challenges so people don’t forget me 🙂 Hoping to be back on board in a few days.

      1. You’re not forgettable, Madhu. 🙂 I was just hoping everything was ok. Catch up when you can. There’s more to life than blogging (shock! horror!)

  9. As always Madhu you provide such insight into each piece you post. This is an excellent selection for this challenge.

  10. I actually think this works well together. Definitely eye catching, but more importantly to understand the artist’s intentions. I appreciate the explanation. Great example for the theme.

  11. Breathtaking shots! Superb photographs of sights & signs in France……! Have you become a BLOG junkie.?? Hope not! :))

      1. A girlhood cut short, due to your early move in life, to counting tea leaves…? 😄 and now the freedom to follow your inner dreams & desires!!!? Way to go Madhu….. ! This is called FAFOF…!!!😝😝

  12. Oh, it works!!! And a great shot too, Madhu. I’ll make sure not to miss it the next time, if it is still there…

    1. It will be there alright. When are you going next? I am hoping to return for my sister’s fiftieth next year 🙂

      1. You are going back with your sister? 🙂 That’s cool Madhu. I have no idea when I will visit it again. I would like to do it once more in this life time. I don’t dare make any travelling plans for next year, as I don’t know if I’ll have any work and resources by then….

        1. That is the plan, but my sister has way too many commitments – daughter just into college, son still in school, and a year old job (in the US) – so I don’t know whether it will happen. But we dream and talk about it 🙂

  13. Yeah, but to most people who wouldn’t know about its background story, it still serves as a warning to be quiet. A mural that visible, I bet it works. 😀

  14. I kind of think it works. It’s tastefully muted “large” and well-done. I suppose it’s inevitable that murals appear on old buildings, and sometimes I think they are an improvement. Knowing the story behind this one makes it interesting. Enjoyed considering the question that you posed here, Madhu.

  15. I love your Paris pictures. You bring me to a place I dreamed of visiting when I was younger. Well, I still do. 🙂

  16. I have to admit that, at first glance, the natural xtaposition of the mural and the church was much too jarring for my liking. But after reading your post, I got it. While I sure wouldn’t be one to advocate the practice of murals popping up alongside the beautiful, traditional architecture of historic churches, I do like the message this mural tries to impart. Great picture, by the way. It certainly met the guidelines for the weekly challenge!

  17. Stunning photos ………..Kolkota’s Victoria Memorial, and the ghastly (now iconic?) modern cube structure plonked dead centre inside the classic Parisian Louvre Museum. But with your interest in catching just the right angles & light for the photographs, are you able to find time to soak in the atmosphere too? Sure hope so… This last, BTW, was another Blogger’s observation, when he realized that he had been producing fantastic imagery, while the feel and the appreciation of the places he traveled to see, got lost in translation while capturing the images…..! Not a criticism….just an observation that struck a chord in my mind…!

    1. Oh yes I do. The trick is to allow yourself enough time at each place, rather than blitz through them in a group. You will understand if you read my post on Humayun’s tomb. Appreciate your stopping by Harini.

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