PARIS — While the eyes of many in the art world are trained on the big New York auctions this month, an emissary from a dissident faction will be at work nearby, as the French street artist known as Invader brings his signature pixelated mosaic works back to the city.
The artist has built a substantial career over nearly two decades, installing works around the globe and beyond with a recent placement in the International Space Station. His work has earned him a place among the street-art elite, although without the wider recognition of peers like Shepard Fairey and Banksy.
His stature could rise further with his latest venture. Invader arrived in New York over the weekend with plans to put up new mosaics in the city, including some larger pieces installed with permission from property owners. (In 2013, he was arrested by the police in New York after an installation, but was not charged.)
“Invader’s work lends itself perfectly to architecture,” Mr. Fairey said in an email, “while simultaneously signaling that counterculture subversion can take any form.”
Like many street artists, Invader relies on a pseudonym, in his case inspired by the classic arcade game Space Invaders, to keep his real identity under wraps. But on a recent visit to his studio on the outskirts of Paris, he offered a glimpse of some of the New York-themed mosaics he plans to install, many of them tailored to specific sites.
In person, Invader has a French Everyman look, a pack-a-day slenderness. At 46, his face and demeanor are so nondescript that the moment you avert your eyes, he fades in memory, an advantage in his line of work.
The New York-bound works were sprawled out on the concrete floor in various states of completion. One was a six-foot-tall Joey Ramonein dark glasses and a red-and-white striped shirt. Beyond that was an image in black with white hair, the unmistakable likeness of Andy Warhol.
Invader rifled through a stack of finished works and selected a postersize board, peeling back an adhesive coating to reveal an instantly recognizable pixel portrait in baby blue, black and white, with sinister dark blue Invader figures descending in the background.
“What do New Yorkers think of Woody Allen?” he asked.
Like any artist, Invader went through an experimental phase.
“I had never made any graffiti before starting this project,” he said, referring to the signature style that he adopted in 1998.
“I became interested by computer pixelation,” he added. “It was the beginning of the Internet. It was a revolution, the beginning of video games, and the beginning of our era.”
After a period of painting in pixels, he discovered bathroom tiles. They stood in well for pixels, and their heft added texture.
In cities cluttered with street art, Invader’s placement skills set him apart. He ferrets out a city’s nerve center and places his work just out of reach but exactly where it will snag the most eyes, a method he calls “urban acupuncture.”
Carlo McCormick, an art critic in New York who met Invader in England in 2006, said that his work “is about its dialogue with the city.”
“It’s not just that it’s on a wall,” Mr. McCormick said. “Where is the wall? What does it look onto? How does it fit in with the fabric of a neighborhood?”
His loftiest accomplishment, the small piece that was carried to the International Space Station in January, led to additional installations at European Space Agency facilities across the Continent.
In all, Invader has installed more than 3,000 pieces in more than 60 cities around the world. A map on his website tracks some of his travels, and he has released a smartphone app that lets fans accumulate points by shooting photographs of his work.
“There are 5,879 people with the app,” he said, pulling up the data on his phone. “Look, someone posted 12 seconds ago.”
His success involves a curious balance of fame and anonymity. He sometimes works in a Bill Gates mask. In Banksy’s 2010 documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” his face was pixelated.
“Usually the anonymous want fame, and famous people seek anonymity,” he said. “I have both. I feel free, both inside and outside from the art world.”
“He could transition fine,” Mr. McCormick said. “He could have a museum or gallery or fine art practice. But his passion lies elsewhere. “He just can’t stop doing the illegal work on the street.”
In Paris, Invader has reached an unspoken détente with that city’s gendarmes, who allow him to go about his business. In general, he feels embraced there.
“Police don’t see me as a threat,” he said. “After 15 years, nobody is complaining about what I’m doing,” he said. “I am seen not as a vandal but as an artist.”
Other cities are often less welcoming. So Invader has opted for a new tactic in New York, putting out a call on Instagram to building owners to determine who might be willing to let him install some of his mosaics legally. In exchange, the owners would acquire valuable Invader works at no charge. This will allow him to work on those pieces without fear of arrest, although still in the wee hours to protect his identity.
But authorization comes with a price: He has to get approval of the works themselves from the building owners. “That is different for me,” he said.
These legal works are likely to be out of reach to collectors and thieves. To thwart those who might take down his work for their own profit, he said, he has sought out sites with natural architectural recesses or filled-in windows. By installing a piece in the exact size and shape of these nooks, he leaves little wiggle room for anyone who might try to pry them out.
In recent years, he has also used larger, thinner tiles: Try to jimmy them off, and they’ll chip apart rather than popping off intact.
After his New York run, Invader plans to return to Paris and work on his next invasion in continued anonymity.
“I have never been tempted to reveal my identity,” Invader said. “What I do and create is more important than who exactly I am.”