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From graffiti writer to international artist

This post is also available in: German

Stuttgart via Miami to the world. The art of Marc C. Woehr has already been around the globe a few times. ‘That was hard work’, emphasizes the 42-year-old artist, looking back proudly on over 25 years of creativity. On The Move offers a portrait of a former graffiti writer who has made the successful leap onto the international gallery scene.

On visiting Marc Woehr in his studio, you might at first think he is doing a jigsaw puzzle. The Stuttgart artist kneels in the middle of a collection of tiny, geometric pieces of wood. He rearranges the laser cut pieces over and over again, positioning them systematically in front of him. When everything is as it should be, he eventually reaches for the spray can. Every single piece is painted in detail by hand in black, white, grey and orange, the artist’s colours of preference in his work.

‘Midnight rockers, city slickers, gunmen and maniacs. All are featured on the freak show and I can’t do nothing ’bout that.’ In the background, ‘Safe from harm’ by Massive Attack plays quietly. Concentration reigns in his studio located in the heart of Stuttgart. Again and again he pauses, casts a critical glance at the colourful pieces. ‘Everything has to dry properly, otherwise it won’t work out’, he comments and turns to the next piece. Soon he will bring together the countless individual pieces into one of his unmistakable wooden art works, which have long since become his trademark far beyond the borders of Germany. Looking over the shoulder of the artist elicits both fascination and wistfulness at the same time. Here, every square metre radiates creativity, strength and calm, as if the man with the distinctive glasses has consciously created a place of refuge after having spent so many years on the street.

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©Marc Woehr

Flashback. Marc Woehr grew up in the Swabian town of Neckarsulm. The small town of 28,000 souls in the north of Baden-Wittenberg didn’t have much to offer the boy. Constantly in search of more space, freedom and expression, as a 15-year-old he joined a group of teenagers from nearby Heilbronn to form a self-organized youth meeting point, which quickly established itself as a popular hot spot. Here, hip hop and homemade quarter ramps dominated the life of the young skater. That was until one of the boys brought the first marker pen and began tagging. Young Marc found it both cool and fascinating, though as he remarks today ‘I didn’t think too much about it and just did it as well’.

His first mark started the ball rolling, however, and from then on painting under the open sky determined his daily life. Graffiti became a passion. It was an exciting time, upon which he looks back happily. ‘We were out and about the whole time. Once we sprayed a subway underpass in broad daylight. The passengers just walked past us. It simply didn’t bother anyone, because back then everything was still new and no-one knew graffiti.’

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©Marc Woehr

True to the adage ‘write your name on the wall and show everyone that you exist’, back then it was less about focusing on art and more about the goal of immortalizing himself in prominent places. Over the years, as Woehr’s concept of art changed and the desire for calm also increased, his real creative time began. In 2002 his goal was clearly defined: to make art. And the artworks? They should find their way into international galleries.

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©Marc Woehr

Today, Woehr’s work is shown worldwide, including in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Montpellier and Paris. The artist is in demand: at Art Basel in Miami Beach he installed a 40 metre long façade; he delivered work for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall; and he was invited to represent Germany in the travelling exhibition ‘FIFA Fine Art’ as part of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. For the new SEAT Ateca, he recently designed the world’s biggest Urban Art course in Barcelona.

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©Marc Woehr

Marc Woehr is a prime example of an artist who, with a lot of ambition, has made the way from the bottom to the very top. And although these days his studio has replaced the street as the terrain for his creative work, he still stays true to his artistic roots, drawing his inspiration now – as always – from the urban sphere. The street as the smallest unit, the architecture of the city as the greater whole, his work has long since permeated these spaces and explored them in every direction.

Find out more about Marc Woehr and his artwork here: www.marcwoehr.de

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