Street art in Sarajevo

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Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina has gained international notoriety for its diverse range of street art and associated subcultures.[1] The city has a long history of street art that was first tied to various subcultures in the 1970s and 1980s. During the Bosnian war political and anti-war street art was one of the main artistic focal points of the besieged city.[2] Today, Sarajevo is a European center for street art and hosts two international festivals dedicated to the art form.[3]


Sarajevo war-time guerrilla art shown in The Hunting Party

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, much of the city's youth was influenced by the graffiti of New York, which subsequently became popular in Sarajevo's inner suburbs, and along the suburban railway and tram lines. With the arrival of the Punk and Mod subcultures to the Former Yugoslavia, as well as the rise of the New Primitives artistic movement,[4] street art became extremely prevalent in the city.[5]

Even though street art was present in Sarajevo while Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of Yugoslavia, it only truly became prevalent with the start of the Bosnian war in 1992, when the city came under siege. Numerous art collectives tied to the Sarajevo Academy of Fine Arts, the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo and formal artistic institutions such as Collegium Artisticum [6] used street art to call attention to what was happening in the country.[7][8]

Since the war, the city has become a hotbed for street art, with the local government endorsing the creation of various street art quarters and having a lenient attitude towards this form of artistic expression.[9]


Guerrilla art[edit]

Street Art by Kerim Mušanović

Guerrilla art is the most common form of street art found in Sarajevo. Guerrilla artists increasingly seem to be moving towards a philosophy of painting a continuous work of art, adding to it over time as less developed elements of the piece are erased by graffiti cleaning efforts or in the battle for space.[10] The most important development in the street art movement and the reason for its 'guerrilla' tag is the adoption of guerrilla marketing techniques over traditional artistic methods. The use of guerrilla marketing methods to create ‘artistic publicity’ has seen the evolution away from artists as creative individuals and towards artists as brands.[11] This style of street art was first adopted by Sarajevan street artists during the Siege.[12][13]

Street installations[edit]

Sarajevo Red Line street installation

Street installations have become a regular form of artistic expression in Sarajevo since the war. The most well-known was the Sarajevo Red Line, held on April 6, 2012 in the Maršal Tito street and it consisted of a large chair installation, street exhibition of war posters and a concert.[14][15]

Ultras street art[edit]

The Ultras subculture is a type of football fan renowned for ultra-fanatical support. The subculture is predominantly tied to association football, with members following association football teams. Sarajevo's two major football clubs, FK Sarajevo and FK Željezničar both have organized Ultras groups, with the former being supported by Horde Zla and the latter being supported by Manijaci. Both groups have partaken in the creation of numerous examples in of street art that can be found across the city.[16][17]

War memorials[edit]

Large colourful murals and images decorate some of the derelict and crumbling walls of Sarajevo's suburbs, acting to commemorate victims of the war or to distract people from the unrepaired damage.[citation needed]

Sarajevo Rose[edit]

A Sarajevo Rose is a concrete scar caused by a mortar shell's explosion that was later filled with red resin. Mortar rounds landing on concrete create a unique fragmentation pattern that looks almost floral in arrangement. Because Sarajevo was a site of intense urban warfare and suffered thousands of shell explosions during the Siege of Sarajevo, the marked concrete patterns are a unique feature to the city.[18]

Throughout the city, explosion marks have been filled with red resin to mark where mortar explosions resulted in one or more deaths.[19]


Sarajevo hosts two international festivals dedicated to street art. The Sarajevo Street Art Festival is held in July of every year and lasts for three days. Each year's edition is made up of numerous street performances, the creation of a new street art quarter in the city, concerts, the painting of large murals and the showcasing of other creative art forms.

Beton Fest is an international 3D street art festival that is held in July of every year and lasts for five days. It is the only 3D street art festival in Southeastern Europe [20] and has hosted many renowned street artists such as Vera Bugatti,[21] Giovanna la Pietra,[22] Tony Cuboliquido,[23] Manuel Bastante [24] and others.

Apart from the two major street art festivals, Sarajevo also hosts Pop-Up! Sarajevo [25] and the Pop Art Festival [26] which organize street art conferences and workshops.


  1. ^ "Sarajevo's Street Art: The Unlikely Legacy of the Bosnian War".
  2. ^ "Obojena klapa / Nakon grafita na Ciglanama želimo pretvoriti Sarajevo u uličnu galeriju".
  3. ^ "Beton Fest čini Sarajevo 3D prijestlonicom svijeta". N1 Television.
  4. ^ "Smisao nadrealizma dr. Neleta Karajlića", Nebojša Grujičić & Jovana Gligorijević, Vreme issue #1144, Belgrade, 6 December 2012, p.52
  5. ^ "Sarajevo's Street Art: The Unlikely Legacy of the Bosnian War".
  6. ^ "City Gallery Collegium Artisticum".
  7. ^ "A Cultural MRI - Contemporary Art in Sarajevo".
  8. ^ "Sarajevo's Street Art: The Unlikely Legacy of the Bosnian War".
  9. ^ "Sarajevski street art na razglednicama".
  11. ^ "Genius or vandalism? The guerrilla artists subverting our streets".
  12. ^ "Sarajevo: Urađena replika znamenitog grafita 'Enjoy Sarajevo' (foto)".
  13. ^ "Welcome to Sarajevo".
  14. ^ "Sarajevska crvena linija: Sjećanje na poginule u opsadi". Slobodna Evropa (in Bosnian). Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  15. ^ {{cite web| url= | publisher=Federal Television | title=Sarajevo Red Line | lang=Bosnian | accessdate=April 4, 2012
  16. ^ "Grafit navijača FK Sarajevo u znak sjećanja na genocid u Srebrenici" (in Bosnian). Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  17. ^ Ž "elju i Sarajevo spojio grb sa ljiljanima" Check |url= value (help). (in Bosnian). 20 May 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  18. ^ "Roses of Sarajevo".
  19. ^ "Sarajevo Roses – Painful War Memories Etched in Asphalt".
  20. ^ "Beton Fest čini Sarajevo 3D prijestlonicom svijeta". N1 Television.
  21. ^ "3D street art on Peace in Sarajevo".
  22. ^ "Cijelo Sarajevo pozvano na Beton Fest".
  23. ^ "3D street painting festival in Sarajevo".
  24. ^ "Sarajevo: Još samo pet dana do četvrtog Beton Festa". Radio Sarajevo.
  25. ^ "Počeo treći Pop-Up! Sarajevo".
  26. ^ "O prvom Pop Art Festivalu u Sarajevu – Zenit, Loša, Elvis…".