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UNO in Trastevere, Bringing Back Memories

Posted on Apr 7, 2009 | 8 comments

So walking through Trastevere on Friday afternoon is saw this poster and had to take a photo of it. For those of you who haven’t seen his stuff, it’s immediately recognizable as the work of UNO, who always depicts this boy in his art. I’ve seen a lot of his stuff around, but for some reason the placement just really worked for me. It’s as if he’s almost greeting you on top of the street sign with his jaunty little hat. UNO, who I’ve gotten to correspond with a bit via email and also met here in Rome told me he wanted to put up an even bigger poster and wished it was straighter, but the height and location made that impossible.

I know maybe some people could get sick of all the street art I’m posting these days, but it’s really something that I’m seeing everywhere now that I’m looking more and even though I’m normally not a fan of contemporary art, this stuff has really captured me. For instance, I never had a clue of who this boy was that was always appearing in UNO’s work, but then asked around and discovered that he was actually the face of Kinder chocolate for 37 years, until 2005 when they retired him for a “new” look. Being American, where we don’t have Kinder, I had no clue, but to any European, or Italian in particular, his face represents a nostalgia akin to some of the advertising icons I grew up with. It wasn’t an accident UNO chose him as the key face of his artwork, as he started getting into street art right around the time when Kinder changed advertising and there was a huge uproar in Italy. In fact, whole websites were dedicated to petitioning Kinder to return to the old style instead of the new boy they were putting on the packaging. Was this choice a move to remind us of how much mass marketing effects our lives, ingraining itself in our memories and experiences? For me, it’s just a boy, but for many I’m sure it brings back childhood memories, just as I would feel if I saw an image of Tony the Tiger or the “Time to Make the Donuts” guy from Dunkin Donuts.

It’s funny, but if you think about it, these stupid bits of advertising are part of our culture, a deep part of our culture. So, if UNO’s point was to point that out a bit, well then he succeeded with me. What about you? Is there a particular advertisement that you reminds you of childhood?


  1. So cute and clever–great in black and white

  2. Maybe this was very regional but I liked the electronics guy- “Crazy” Eddie. He would shout “Our prices are insannnnee!.” I think he went to jail shortly afterwards. Whoops!

  3. This reminds me of when Bob’s Big Boy retired the statue of the big boy outside their restaurants. It was a cultural icon and people were in an uproar. There was a tv ad that encouraged people to vote: “Big Boy: will he stay, or go?” Well, he went. A few years later, Mike Myers put Big Boy in his Austin Powers movie. The younger generation had no idea what it was, but the rest of us recognized Big Boy immediately.

  4. Context – Haha, yeah I think Crazy Eddie might be regional. Went to jail huh? I guess he must have been trading favors to make his prices so “crazy.”

    Jolie – That’s a good one! I definitely remember seeing that in Austin Powers and I kind of knew what it was, but not that it was such a big deal. Probably his way of nodding toward his own generation watching the film.

  5. Jolie -you reminded me of Big Boy-everyone was upset Big Boy was gone-also reminds me of Anthony running thru the streets of the North End as his mother calls him home for Prince spaghetti-was on for 20 years–people went crazy when they “retired” Anthony

  6. Hey I’m searching for good streeart. Would you like to upload it here and tag it with #streetart?

  7. Nonna – Oh that’s a good one too and I remember that growing up.

    Sebastian – I just posted three (including this one) up there for you and will try to do more going forward, as I have a lot of photos.

  8. Awesome photos… hope so more soon.

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