Close encounters of the pixelated kind!
Ah Paris, France…. a city that’s eternally associated with romance, culture, and art.
Known as the City of Light (‘La Ville Lumière’) for its leading role during the European Age of Enlightenment, Paris is famous for its resplendent beauty, with dazzling architecture, famous landmarks, and sweeping boulevards.
Paris doesn’t fail to dazzle its visitors with its usual line-up of cultural delights, but it also holds a few surprises in its streets – well actually over 1,200, to be more precise.
So if you can pry your eyes away from the Parisian storefronts showcasing French desserts, handicrafts, and latest haute couture fashions, make it a point to look up slightly from time to time.
If you have a sharp eye you may spot the ceramic tiled artworks created by street artist “Invader” (a self-identified “Unidentified Free Artist”, or UFA – and a graduate of the famed Ecole des Beaux Arts of Paris), that are created in pixelated 8-bit style.
They’re typically placed just below the 2nd floor level of Parisian building facades, presumably to be visible to pedestrians but just out of reach to all but the most determined and brazen vandals.
These works are scattered across all the Arrondissements (districts) of Paris on both unassuming side streets and on or near famous landmarks.
To date, ‘Invader’ has been diligently cataloging his massive list of public art works and given each one a serial number.
The oldest surviving piece is named ‘PA-03’ (above, created in 1998) and you wouldn’t be blamed for missing it entirely, because it’s discretely placed next to a wall drain pipe between to a hotel and bistro on Rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève, just a few hundred yards south of the Notre Dame cathedral and the river Seine.
But since these humble and discrete beginnings back in the late 1990’s, he has taken the city and indeed, the world, by storm.
In fact, in 2015, replicas of his original works (meaning, produced by him for sale to private collectors) have sold in auctions for over $ 250,000 U.S. Dollars (yes you read that right) – and having gotten wind of their value, crafty Parisian thieves have managed to partially or completely dismantle some of Invader’s works tile-by-tile, sometimes in broad daylight. And in fake municipal city worker uniforms, to boot.
Then not long after this fiasco, Invader started using tiles that fall apart on removal and also showed other would-be thieves his cheek by creating this piece, presumably as kind of a collective “F-you”:
…. you have to admire the guy’s sense of humor.
Invader does not endorse the public sharing of the exact location of his works (but sells guidebooks to find them yourself – here), so it would take almost a lifetime to hunt them down and share them with you.
So in the meantime, check out the next page for a list of 15 of our favorite works by the mysterious “Space Invader”.