Street painting artists have a long tradition in Europe, starting in Italy in the 16th century. These artists traveled from town to town creating their images as a source of their livelihood. Coins were thrown onto each artist image in adoration of their skill.

The first Italian Street Painting Festival honoring this art form began in 1973 in the village of Grazie di Curtatone as a celebration of the Feast of the Assumption. These "Madonnari" or "Madonna painters" refer to the reproduction of icons of the Madonna. Every August 14th hundreds of artists, from all over Italy and other European countries, gather for the 24-hour competition. They begin in the early evening working through the night to complete their paintings by the Feast of the Assumption.

In recent years, young artists have started a revival of this true folk art. Why paint on the street? In effect, street painting remains a performance to be enjoyed at the moment. The process is more important than the finished product itself. Most painters are therefore content with documenting their works in photographs.


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