Florentine Guerilla Street Art

20160816_193136I had noticed the funny artistic additions to Florence's street signs over the years without really taking a close look. This time around I started to get the joke. Clet Abraham, a street artist, has been secretly adding clever images to the street signs in Florence for the past half decade or so.  20160817_131534A Frenchman, Clet has taken up residence here and his street art has been seen in other Italian and European cities as well.  But Florence, like for the Renaissance 500 years ago, is ground zero.  His favorite target seems to be the do not enter signs - red disks with a white horizontal bar.  Their message of rejection seems to be too much for Clet to ignore. 20160816_193814 The number of visual puns inspired by these simple "no-go" signs is truly prolific.  The art is both provocative and simply pleasant.  This time in Florence I did like thousands of fans before me and engaged in a "Clet sign" urban scavenger hunt.  They are everywhere.  And almost without exception, they make one smile.  And sometimes they make one think. 20160816_195844What I managed to perceive this time around is that they are not here simply to amuse, which they certainly do, but also to protest in a polite and clever way.  More than anything else, and taken collectively, the street sign art of Clet Abraham is a quiet and creative call to simply get along.  20160817_113315It is a call to question the creeping constraints on society present in all western cultures - both by our increasingly bureaucratized government institutions and from our own fears and anxieties.  It is an entreaty to officials to not be so stern and a clarion for citizens to not forget the age-old Italian attitude of enjoying the journey of life, not just the destination.  For me, the ubiquitous presence of Clet signs added an amusing and Quixotic element to well trodden and familiar streets.  And isn't that what art is all about?20160816_200207