From striking paintings on abandoned ships to murals celebrating Black culture and history, street artists have found unique and impressive ways to beautify their surroundings over the past year. We've searched our favorites to present the 10 best murals of 2021.
This selection features incredible creative feats in America, Asia, and beyond. San Francisco-based artist Mona Caron, for instance, expanded on her ongoing WEEDS series—a project which focuses on adding depictions of native plants to urban spaces—with a 20-story mural of a wildflower in Jersey City. Similarly, Spanish artist Taquen breathed new life into an old landmark in Gien, France, by covering a 115-foot water tower with a painting of various flying birds.
Scroll down to check out the most impressive and unique murals of the year.
Relive the best murals of 2021!
115-Foot Water Tower Mural of Birds in Gien, France by Taquen
Nestled along the Loire River in France, the town of Gien has a new landmark thanks to the skills of street artist Taquen. The Spanish artist spent nearly two weeks in July transforming one of the town's three water tanks into a piece of art. The result is a stunning monument that uses the artist's delicate color palette to incorporate a variety of birds into the cement façade.
Mural Portrait (Inspired by Egypt Sarai) in Trinidade, Brazil by Fábio Gomes Trinidade
Brazilian street artist Fábio Gomes Trindade combines painting and nature to create singular works that are only complete when viewed together. With the help of tree branches that sit above his vibrant murals, he produces portraits where only part of the head is present—such as the face and a portion of the hair. But when paired with colorful flowering trees and green leaves, the portrait has a full, beautiful coif. It's a clever and charming way to combine elements of the urban environment with the natural one.
20-Story Mural Entitled Shauquethqueat’s Eutrochium by Mona Caron
Commissioned by the Jersey City Mural Arts Program, Mona Caron‘s mural Shauquethqueat’s Eutrochium depicts a plant that is native to the site called Eutrochium. Caron captures one of these wildflowers in exquisite detail and places it against a stark black background that enhances the red-and-green palette of the plant. In this way, the format of the painting recalls vintage botanical illustrations.
Otakiage in Kyushu, Japan by ONEQ
Growing up in a coastal city on the peaceful island of Kyushu in Southeast Japan, the sea has been a great source of inspiration and comfort to Japanese artist ONEQ. That's why she chose the side of an old abandoned ship as her monumental canvas for a recent mural project.
“I performed the ‘OTAKIAGE’ of the ship that has reached the end of its life,” ONEQ says, referring to the Japanese fire ritual of symbolic endings and new beginnings. “[It is] a toast to the ship that has been working a long time.”
Gutter Paradise Mural in Los Angeles, CA by Adele Renault
Los Angeles-based artist Adele Renault uses city-dwelling pigeons as the muse for kaleidoscopic murals of detailed feathers. The ongoing series, called Gutter Paradise, decorates building façades across the globe with joyous colors and shapes.
“The inspiration [for Gutter Paradise] comes from pigeon feathers,” she continues. “I started painting pigeons because I am always interested in showing beauty where you least expect it. I wanted to emphasize the peacock-like iridescence of pigeon feathers, of those flying rats living in the gutter. Hence the name for the series.”
Mirror Land Mural in Olsztyn, Poland by Pener
Polish artist Bartek Świątecki, aka Pener, is one of the many artists using their talents to transform the façades of buildings into public works of art. Recently, he completed his latest mural in Olsztyn, Poland. Entitled Mirror Land, this vibrant, blue-and-green painting depicts a mesmerizing fusion of geometric shapes and planes.
Lace Mural in Brittany, France by NeSpoon
Polish street artist NeSpoon is known for creating murals based on delicate patterns of antique lace. And now, she's brought her unique style to a small town in French Brittany. Painting for the In Cité, Festival écologique d'Arts Urbains, NeSpoon transformed the façade of a building into a stunning work of art.
Translucent “Cloth” Mural in Grenoble, France by Rosie Woods
London-based street artist Rosie Woods creates evocative work that flows across the walls of any city she visits. Teetering on the line between realism and abstraction, her compositions look like colorful cloths billowing across the architecture. And by selecting vibrant hues, Woods allows her murals to pop and immediately transform the environment.
Large-Scale Collage Mural in Dallas, Texas by Tristan Eaton
Designer, illustrator, and street artist Tristan Eaton is perhaps most well-known for his large-scale murals that can be found in cities around the world—including New York, Paris, and Shanghai. In one of his latest commissions, Eaton’s canvas was an 8,500-square-foot building called The Stack in the heart of Dallas, Texas’ historic Deep Ellum neighborhood. The massive mural of a Black cowgirl harks back to Deep Ellum’s roots as the diverse center of the city’s music, art, and entertainment scene
Colorful Mural of a Flying Bird in Buenos Aires, Argentina by Fio Silva
Argentian artist Fio Silva decorates building façades with exquisite depictions of birds soaring through windy skies and leafy foliage. “I have always liked painting organic and moving figures,” Silva tells My Modern Met. “They represent a search for meaning that I was experiencing.”