Belgrade Street Art

Does anyone else out there like street art better than museum art? Just me? Bueller? Bueller?

Admitting such a thing certainly singles me out as some kind of cultural deviant, but I think there is an inherent difficulty factor in street art that we just don’t get to appreciate in the sterile museum environment.

Maybe it’s the covert nighttime painting. Maybe it’s the code names and the anonymous identities. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s all spray paint, raising the difficulty level by a thousand percent. I can’t even get spray paint to spray in one direction with a nozzle. Not to mention that it hurts my fingers after about a minute.

belgrade street art: cat

belgrade street art: famous mouth

All this to say, I’m a huge fan of artists who take to the street in search of creative, and sometimes political, expression.

We actively seek out street art and street art tours during our travels and we were interested to see online that there is an active street art community in Belgrade, Serbia. Street art tends to be a byproduct of a few trends – a growing population of young people, encouragement or ambivalence of local government (who won’t paint over the new art), and a strong voice with something to say.

belgrade street art: woman

Given the tumultuous past of Belgrade, and a generation that has come to adulthood in a very different atmosphere than previous generations, it is entirely unsurprising that the artists have taken to the street.

For our street art education in Belgrade, we turned to Belgrade Alternative Guide. This small collective of passionate Belgradians, has multiple areas of expertise. They offer free and paid tours across a variety of subjects.

But on a sunny October day, we (me and Drew, plus four of BAG’s tour guides and one very game friend) saw all of the street art in Belgrade.

belgrade street art: BAG

belgrade street art: drew

belgrade street art: underground

Ok, an exaggeration, but not by much. We covered a wide swath of the city to see Belgrade’s finest, and also give our thoughts to the BAG about how they might prioritize neighborhoods and works of art for coming tourist seasons.

We were really blown away by the passion of this group, their deep knowledge of the local art community, and personal friendships with artists. We expect that their street art tours will continue to evolve, as the landscape of art in Belgrade does, but we’d highly recommend seeing out Belgrade Alternative Guide next time you’re in town.

belgrade street art: huge wall

belgrade street art: blue tall
belgrade street art: bear

One story we found fascinating is the Serbian football rivalry playing out on the street. The two main football clubs of Belgrade, Partizan and Red Star, have been bitter rivals since their post-WWII formations. These clubs have divided the football fans of Belgrade, and their devotees have formed intense, dedicated fan clubs, often divided by neighborhood.

The bitter rivalry can sometimes escalate to violence, and the football hooligans take their passion for their respective clubs seriously. There are multiple fan clubs for each team, with names like Alcatraz, Belgrade Boys, Grobari 1970, and they are extremely well organized.

The fans have taken to street art themselves, spray painting their club symbols on buildings, designated their territory. Our tour guides noted that even when professional street artists are commissioned to do work in certain neighborhoods, ardent fans insist that a symbol of their football club be included. And the local clubs make sure the artist is left with no choice but to comply.

(The red and white symbol in the piece below is one such mark.)

belgrade street art football symbol

belgrade street art football club

Another fascinating story from Belgrade was its participation in ‘Meeting of Styles.’ This global movement is meant to bring beauty to city centers by encouraging cities to organize large scale multi-artist pieces. Over the course of three annual weekends in Belgrade, various corners of the city were transformed by a group of participating artists.

Each weekend had a color theme, and each installation also contains several small nods to Belgrade’s skyline and Victor monument. The last event in Belgrade was a few years ago. Since then, factions in the art world have prevented a similar project, but enthusiasts are hopeful that it will return.

Note: In addition to the orange and green installations below, the blue fish at the top of this post is the third.

belgrade street art: meeting of styles orange

belgrade street art: meeting of styles

If you’re thinking that it might be worth a trip to Belgrade to see the prolific artwork, don’t delay. One neighborhood, Savamala, that has been one of the epicenters of street art for years, is the location for a massive development project (locals call it Mini Dubai).

This area of Belgrade will be unrecognizable in a few years, and many art installations will go the way of the proverbial dumpster as room is made for high rise condos and the largest shopping mall in Europe. At the time of our visit, a recent section of demolition left the tour guides of Belgrade Alternative Guide desperate to preserve the artistic feeling of Savamala before it’s too late.

belgrade street art savamala
belgrade street art: vegan chick

Street art is one of the true pleasures of city living and we are so excited to introduce you to the fantastic art of Belgrade. It is spectacular and not to be missed.

Even if it won’t end up in a museum any time soon.

Thank you so much to Belgrade Alternative Guide for showing us your city and for spending the better part of a day with us. We had a fantastic time, and learned so much about Belgrade, past, present and future. To sign up for one of the tours from Belgrade Alternative Guide, or to learn more, check out their website here.

belgrade street art pin

  • November 2, 2016

    I’m sold! Belgrade is definitely on the list now. And I’m with you – I much prefer street art to museums…
    Jenny Smith recently posted…In search of Tombili – Istanbul’s famous catMy Profile

    • November 2, 2016

      certainly a hidden gem in the Balkans!

  • November 5, 2016

    That’s a lovely tour. I like street art and that looks pretty impressive! The cat is so cute! Definitely on my list!

  • November 6, 2016

    Love the cat piece at the top! 🙂 Even though I love museum art, I do have to say, too, that I enjoy street art even more! We always search it out when we travel as well. That’s interesting that the local football clubs make sure their symbols are on certain buildings– it’s great to learn more about the different art and meanings from tours like this. Looks like a great time and a fantastic city for street art!

  • November 6, 2016

    I love these types of posts! When I travel I always seek out for the wall graffitis and street art! Loving your pictures 🙂
    Mimi recently posted…Peaceful retreat at Upendo Zanzibar, TazaniaMy Profile

  • November 6, 2016

    Haha I love how you describe yourself a cultural deviant. I have to say I love both street art and museum art. I believe street art has it’s place in a city’s or town’s culture and should be preserved just as much as museum art.
    Marteen recently posted…Canada | Craigdarroch CastleMy Profile

  • November 6, 2016

    I am also enamored by street or graffiti art especially if there is a theme connecting them. I know what you are saying. This art form is never considered serious and often gets painted over or demolished.

  • November 6, 2016

    Street art is such a creative channel for artists to express themselves without being held back by a corporate structure. I think street art enhances a city like Belgrade in particular.

  • November 7, 2016

    I’m with you, I think that street art is a lot better than museum art. I think it a better representation of the average person and their beliefs. Belgrade certainly has a lot of street art! It’ll be interesting to see how it continues to develop.
    Vicky and Buddy recently posted…A Visit To Dinosaur Ridge In Morrison, ColoradoMy Profile

  • November 7, 2016

    Belgrade seems to look like my hometown, NYC, during the 1980s. Graffiti in every crevice of the city. Gang and sport team tags everywhere. We still see graffiti in NYC but they’re more “street art” and most of the artists are paid. Hopefully, that will be the next movement for the artiests in Belgrade as well.
    Brenda recently posted…3 Great Context Tours to take with tweens in LondonMy Profile

  • November 8, 2016

    Yeah!I’m a fan of public visual art. It’s one of the strongest ways to deliver your message to the public. Who doesn’t noticed such kind of creativity? No one!. Gone are the days of vandalism welcome to the modern day guerrilla art! Thumbs up to all the artists who created these amazing street arts in Belgrade. You guys rock!