How A French Artist Brought Classic Works Out Of The Museum And Into the Streets

The anonymous subjects of museum portraits finally get a chance to experience life in the streets.

When you hear the phrase “street art,” the sort of names that come to mind are probably Keith Haring, Shepard Fairey, Banksy—and maybe a lot more, depending on how into that scene you are. Street art has long been about names–but the Outings Project is much more interested in those who’ve long been anonymous.


French filmmaker and artist Julien de Casabianca was inspired by an Ingres portrait of an anonymous woman he saw in the Louvre. His particular inspiration was to take images that have been trapped within museum walls to the streets outside. (Hence “Outings.”) Casabianca took a photo of the portrait, printed it on glue-resistant ink, and pasted it up on the street. Since then, he and others participating in the project have done the same things in other parts of the world–from Paris to Rio de Janeiro to Islamabad to Dallas (Casabianca has posted instructions and specs on the Outings site).

Part of the point for Casabianca is to take classical art, which can be alienating to people who haven’t had access to it, and reappropriate it by bringing it to their streets.

Some of the images end up on street art walls, alongside large tags and other pieces that represent other types of street art. Casabianca says that he sees little distinction between “street art” and “art in the street,” even if the vocabulary is different.

Most of what he’s noticed, though, is that the reactions to the Outings is positive no matter who sees it: “Bourgeois harpist or hip-hop man, child or old lady, poor or rich, policeman or homeless–everybody likes it,” he says. “When some people want to stop us, like L.A. police or neighbors in San Francisco–because they see us as street artists at work–when they watch exactly what we do, they accept it. It’s something universal. Our common patrimony.”

See some of the works in the gallery above.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.