Many of the names are familiar, from street signs and metro stations if not from my limited knowledge of French history.  There are clues in dress and hairstyle to the era to which each portrait belongs but I’d be guessing the identity of these famous faces if it weren’t for the helpful captions.  The strong face looking out over the yellow bicycle is that of Aimé Cesaire (1913-2008) a writer, anti-colonialist politician, poet and biographer, born in Martinique.


(Click on any photo to view the gallery)

Street artist C215 started out stenciling faces of ordinary and sometimes marginalized people who you might pass by without a second glance.  His unofficial series of stencils on utility boxes developed to include some famous faces and the vivid character of these portraits led to commissioned work.

Illustres! is an ongoing series of portraits around the 5th arrondissement featuring some of the illustrious French men and women who are celebrated (and in many cases interred) in the Pantheon.  A commission from the Ministry of Culture (and an exhibition in the crypt of the Pantheon itself) might turn the heads of many artists but C215’s Facebook page shows that alongside this extraordinary series he continues to celebrate ordinary people in unofficial street portraits wherever he goes.