Paint Us Into A Corner: 22 Visions of Celebrity Graffiti

We crave celebrity. We obsess over the minutia of celebrity lives, watch every movie of our favorite actors, and buy every endorsed product they throw their smiles behind. With celebrity so consumed by our culture, it’s time for guerilla artists to turn this national pastime on its head. The underground counter culture movement revels in twisting the consumerist culture, and celebrity graffiti, with all of its wackiness, finally turns those celebrity eyes on us.

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MTO is a master of realistic celebrity portraits, and his work brings characters into dirty urban environments that couldn’t be further from our carefully orchestrated silver screen. Placing a famous character out of context makes their surreal nature incredibly apparent. When we realize the oddness of idolizing the character staring at us from the wall of an abandoned building, the artist’s mission is complete.

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Stenciled celebrities aren’t the most graphically satisfying, but they can pop up anywhere, and in numbers that make us acutely aware of how much they permeate our lives. A quickly airbrushed image can strike to the core of our need for celebrity wherever we look.

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The ladies of Hollywood are particularly favorite icons, and the faces of leading women like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe have become pervasive symbols of the hollywood high life, and as a consequence, are equally favorite subjects of underground artists.

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Musicians are better known for their sound than their image, but even their faces are instantly recognizable. When we notice a musician’s face on the side of a building, the fact that we recognize them is jarring in itself.

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Michael Jackson has always been plastered across the media, and his portrait has become even more popular after his tragic death. Michael Jackson’s interesting life has lead to an even stranger existence in graffiti on urban walls. His unique visage peering at us from the side of an alley is a reflective one.

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A fantastic twist on Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe work has become a popular counter culture commentary on celebrity; it morphs other iconic faces into an odd mix as if we fit every celebrity into the same mold, until they all become freakish and eerily similar.

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Film characters have just as much, if not more, power than the actors that play them, which makes it that much stranger when a seemingly immortal character is plastered to the side of a brick wall, with slight, wacky adjustments that make their lack of context even more unusual. Creative license enables underground artists to create an uncomfortable rift between the reality and unreality of our pervasive celebrity culture.