Blek le Rat | Escaping Paris

Artist putting the finishing touches on a drawing of a man

Blek le Rat | Escaping Paris

Artist in Residence Winter 2014

Widely recognized as the “Father of stencil graffiti,” and “the man that gave birth to Banksy” Xavier Prou first rose to prominence under the pseudonym, Blek le Rat, in Paris in the 1980s. The rat, a symbol of the persistent spread of street art and an anagram for the word art, is an apt marker for the influential artist. Inspired by the early graffiti of the 1970s in New York City, in particular the prolific works of TAKI 183 and then UK transplant Richard Hamilton, Prou’s iconic work rapidly spread throughout Paris and Europe. Today, Blek le Rat is celebrated globally and is credited for having paved the way for street artists such as Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and Kaws. His principles, however, remain true to his roots. Blek le Rat has repeatedly expressed his preference for the streets over galleries, maintaining that it is the ethical and social obligation of an artist to connect with as many people as possible.

Curated by DK Johnston of The Arts Fund, the exhibit features 3 large scale original Blek le Rat paintings, as well as an edition of 25 unique monotypes with lithography that the artist created at the New York Academy of Art during his tenure.

The Quin’s permanent collection includes Blek le Rat’s “Love America” on the 14th floor and loaned works the “Great Wedding” on the second floor, “What Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen” in the Boardroom, and “Tango” in the Lobby. Most recently, the artist commemorated this collaboration on the Quin’s façade with an image of Andy Warhol.

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