In a wide variety of diverse arts, chalk art has also found its place. This unique style of art is common throughout the world and has been rooted since ancient times. Who are the best chalk artists? What are the world’s best chalk art pieces? What is chalk art at all? Keep reading and find answers to these and many other questions.
Welcome to the one of a kind world of chalk art.
What is Chalk Art?
Chalk art is one of the oldest forms of art. It dates back to the Stone Age when the then people used chalk to make wall art in their caves. With its texture and appearance, chalk is very similar to pastels. It has various degrees of hardness and smoothness, so it is ideal for creating chalk drawings (especially landscapes as the main motive!).
A History of Chalk Art
Even though chalk art dates back to the Stone Age, among later artists, it was a technique used for preliminary sketches or for making rough backgrounds for bigger work projects.
In the 15th century, Early Renaissance artists discovered the benefits of using this type of art. They used chalk colors provided from soft black stone, white limestone, and red chalk made from the red earth. As chalk is very similar to pastels in texture and appearance, their goal was to create chiaroscuro. A black tone provided the darkest tones, white was ideal for highlights, while red offered mid-tones. This kind of treatment of light and shade added a dramatic tone to their drawings and paintings.
Street artists soon began to appear, especially in Italy where they have been known as ‘madonnari’. As you can guess, madonnari was the act of drawing Madonna and other religious icons by using only chalk, tile, and coal. Traveling from a festival to a festival, they created amazing chalk art pieces. The same thing was happening in London and other European cities.
Later, chalk artists started to use pastel crayons to add color refinement and make even special portraits.
In the 20th century, artists who created traditional art styles primarily used chalk. Besides them, avant-garde painters such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse were also big fans of this type of art.
World’s Best Chalk Art Pieces
Among all artists around the world, there are always works of art that stand out. Without a special rank, here are the world’s 10 best chalk art pieces ever.
Kurt Wenner: Dies Irae
Another master of creativity and perspective who creates unique chalk art is Kurt Wenner. The Father of Pavement Art was born in Michigan and produced his first mural at the age of sixteen. His incredible 3D chalk art illustrations, as well as different art installations, are world known.
With his work of art, Wenner designs architecture, publicity images, and advertising. However, Dies Irae is probably one of his best known 3D chalk art installations. Translated as ‘The Day of Wrath’, Dies Irae represents the last judgment when the dead crawl out of Earth to be judged. This image has been published countless times and as it is a part of the Catholic Requiem mass, it has been set to music by Mozart, Vivaldi, and other great composers.
Eduardo Rolero: Grandes Chorizos
If you are a true fan of chalk art illustrations, the next artist will impress you. Eduardo Rolero is an Argentinian best known for his amazing anamorphic drawings. Through his unique style, Rolero emphasizes topics of social criticism and satire, while creating surreal sidewalk chalk art. All of his visuals have beautiful illustrative aesthetic, depth and unusual illusion details.
‘Grandes Chorizos’ is another great example of 3D chalk art, which describes the problems of today’s society with a strong emphasis on irony and criticism.
Michelangelo Buonarroti: The Lamentation Over the Dead Christ
The Italian Renaissance painter and one of the greatest world’s artists created this beautiful chalk art. This work of art represents the important moment in Christianity and it became the basis for the creation of the sculpture of the same theme. Michelangelo’s chalk drawing shows the Virgin Mary sitting on the ground and mourning over the dead Christ’s body. To evoke this moment, Michelangelo used black and red chalk, so the whole drawing has a heavy note of sadness and pain.
This chalk drawing was made in the period 1530-1535 and can currently be found at the British Museum in London, United Kingdom. The museum is open daily from 10 am until 5.30 pm (during Fridays it’s open until 8.30 pm).
Tracy Lee Stum: The Da Vinci Code
Finally, yet importantly, Tracy Lee Stum is a chalk artist who is famous for her stunning 3 D paintings, modern chalk art drawings, and anamorphic installations. The world has been her playground with crayons since she was a child. Today, she is considered one of the finest street art painters. She also won a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest painting produced by a single person using chalk. The Da Vinci Code was the colorful 3D chalk art that earned this great attainment.
To find out more about her amazing art pieces, visit her webpage.
Edgar Degas: Dancer Adjusting Her Slipper
Edgar Degas was the amazing French Impressionist who became famous due to his artworks about ballerinas. Even though he was a popular sculptor, painter, and graphic artist, his drawings are also worth the look. One of his greatest chalk art drawings is one showing a dancer adjusting her shoe. The drawing is from 1873.
Degas used graphite, as well as black and white chalk on pink wove paper. The artwork can be found at the Met Museum in New York. The Museum is open daily from 10 am until 9 pm.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Two Nudes
Kirchner was a German painter and printmaker, as well as one of the most important Expressionist artists in the 20th century. He created numerous artworks but in 1937, the Nazis branded his work as ‘degenerate’. More than 600 of his art was destroyed or sold.
He created Two Nudes in 1905 by using colorful chalk on cream wove paper. Even though he had an interest in figure drawing, he abandoned formalities and became more open to nudity. His studio was a place where he lived and worked with his models – often in the nude – so he captured those moments in his drawings. Today, you can find Two Nudes in the Art Institute Chicago. The museum is open daily from 10.30 am until 5 pm (until 8 pm on Thursdays).
Fun Fact: Leonardo da Vinci used chalk to make sketches of the Last Supper.
Edvard Munch: Weeping Girl
The famous Norwegian painter Edvard Munch was also a big fan of using chalk. His best work of art made by using this technique is a ‘Weeping girl’ from 1907. The painting represents a sad girl crying as if she had lost someone dear. She is keeping her head down to hide her pain. To emphasize the sadness and to make painting ever more real, Munch used colorful chalk in a combination with oil on canvas.
You can find Munch’s chalk art at the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway. The museum is open daily from 10 am until 4 pm.
Edgar Mueller: The Ice Age
When it comes to the best chalk art pieces, Edgar Mueller is another name worth mentioning. This German artist started to create art since childhood. Due to his magnificent work, Mueller traveled all across Europe and made a living with his art pieces.
His amazing chalk pastel art ‘Ice Age’ was created for the ‘Festival of World Culture’ in Ireland. It took five days and five assistants to complete this fabulous art. To see more of his chalk art pieces, visit his YouTube channel where he displays his work. Through all of his compositions, Mueller brings incredible perspectives and images to life.
Raphael: Study for the Alba Madonna
Alba Madonna is one of the most popular oil paintings by the Italian painter Raphael. However, before this beautiful painting was created, Raphael made a chalk art drawing as the preparation for the painting. He used red chalk to draw a sketch of the Lady Madonna. This art piece can be found at the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Lille, France. The museum is open from 10 am until 6 pm (Wednesday to Sunday) and 2 pm to 6 pm on Mondays.
Otherwise, Raphael was famous as one of the most significant representatives of the Renaissance. All of his paintings are rich in classical harmony and ideal beauty.
Julian Beever: La Defense
One of the most popular and talented street chalk artists is Julian Beever. This Englishman started to create chalk art since the mid-1990, proudly wearing the nickname ‘Pavement Picasso’. He is a world-known artist due to his incredible 3D illustrations and pavement drawings. This particular one, La defense, was created on the streets of Paris.
If you had a chance to enjoy his work, you’ll probably know that his drawings are specially made to look very realistic when seen from a specific angle. Sometimes, a mobile phone or a camera is required to see his art and fully experience it. Beever always set up the stage so everyone can admire his sidewalk chalk art.
He has also published a book ‘Pavement Chalk Artist’ where you can find more of his work from all over the world.
Chalk Art today
Chalk art today is not only a popular form of art but also a powerful marketing tool. As chalk art is always created for a special audience at a special place, it draws lots of attention. Especially if it is created for particular chalkboards. Usually, you can find them in different restaurants and café bars where chalkboard art is used to send a message or call to action. In other words, chalk art is a great tool to personalize a brand or send an individual message to your audience. It gives a homemade, personal touch. If you are looking for inspiration, Rajiv Surendra is a chalk artist worth researching. He has a unique style of creating chalk art by using text. Maybe it will inspire you to start creating your own chalk art pieces!
Furthermore, another example that shows chalk art is a growing trend are numerous chalk art festivals. Held all over the world, these cool festivals bring together the best of the best artists in the chalk art field. Even if you are not a professional artist, attending a chalk art festival can be a stepping-stone to your career.
Do you have a favorite chalk artist? On the other hand, are you maybe one of the talented creators of this unique field of art? If so, feel free to let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!