As Long as There are Streets, There Will be Street Art

Posted on September 20, 2011


Meet Clet Abraham, the 45 year old French guerilla artist who has made his way to the forefront of contemporary art. Clet is an artist in visual communication meaning that the focal point of his artwork is the ‘idea’ behind the visual. What led him delve into this unique art form?  A sign. Literally.

By Kristen Sandstrom

If you’ve wandered through the stony streets of Florence, Paris and Rome recently you might have noticed something peculiar about the signs. The T symbolizing a dead end street is now a crucifix and the previously dull one-way sign is now carried away by a sly, shadowy figure.


Feeling restricted by the presence and meaninglessness of traffic signs, Clet decided to give them a personal touch. Clet works under the notion that people are most responsible when restrictions aren’t imposed on them, yet signs loom overhead around every corner. The solution? To develop art that gives these signs a deeper meaning and playful nature.

By night, traffic signs get the “Clet treatment” and are altered into modern art. Scattered throughout the public realm, his art is meant to encourage viewers to break free from universally accepted ideas and fixed ways of thought. The irony of his work lies in the way that the new visual coincides with the intended restriction that the sign imposes.

Can you figure out the meaning behind these signs?

Just as he endorses that a way of thinking shouldn’t be set in stone, his art isn’t fated to permanence either. He designed them in sticker form so that they can be easily removed. As a side note to sign collectors, he asks that his work will remain in place so it can be enjoyed by everyone.

The line between vandalism and art is very gray in a world where every city’s walls fall victim to the marks of spray paint and individual tags. Clet does not feel he is partaking in Urban Degradation — Modern traffic signs are fair game because they are a modern city intrusion as well. You will never find Clet’s work interfering with the historical aesthetics of a city.

The thrill and nature of Clet’s work are right up his alley. Clet is a spiritual person and tries to enjoy life as much as possible through good food and drink and time spent with loved ones. His mantra is to enjoy life as long as you are still respecting others.

Street signs are not the only way in which Clet’s artistic talent is manifested. This past January a fiber sculpture, Common Man, graced the Arno with its presence on Ponte alle Grazie. When it was removed 7 days later, Florentines actually petitioned for it back. He is now is looking for permission to install four of these on the bridge. He hopes that his works will remove the boundaries that come along with rules and change the way that people think and lead their lives.

'Common Man' overlooks the Arno

Next time you’re out, lookout for some of Clet’s work–It might just inspire you to break free from your daily routine and think a bit differently!

More Resources

Posted in: Other