So It’s Come To This…

(Another Vandalog Art Market Post)

Well, the inevitable pricing shakedown seems to have begun. Before the second wave of street art can start, there needs to be a time when prices drop a bit. Right now, nobody knows what anything is worth, so nobody is willing to buy all but the very best work. Just like products in the financial markets right now, there is plenty of good street art out there, but nobody wants to risk buying anything but a masterpiece.

In the past two weeks, I’ve come across three instances of galleries dropping prices on large portions of their inventory (Campbarbossa and Herakut must be feeling pretty pleased with themselves right about now, having already sold everything for Dirty Laundry). Maybe these galleries really do feel like giving us all a 10-35% discount just for the heck of it, but I’m guessing that’s not the case. I think this downturn is just a temporary blip though. True collectors who know what they want (as well as savvy investors with cash to spare) could get some great deals right now. Continue reading “So It’s Come To This…”

Adam Neate Bonanza

If you’ve always wanted your own Adam Neate, but couldn’t come up with £40,000, you’re in luck. The Independent has a huge writeup on him today, and according to them, this coming Friday, Neate will be putting 1000 pieces on the street. I’ll be out of town, which is killing me, but for those lucky collectors in London this weekend, a quick reaction time is all that will be needed to snatch up a fantastic work of art.

Perhaps “Street Art Action,” as the endeavor is being called, is a bit of a publicity stunt compared to Neate’s previous random sprees of dropping art wherever he wanted, but who cares? By giving out 1000 pieces in one day, Neate will not only decrease the resale value of all the street pieces being sold at auction, he’s making sure that all his fans know when to go looking for their own cardboard treasure. I just hope that nobody goes around following his assistants and taking every piece for himself.

So if Friday is the when, where will the pieces be distributed? Continue reading “Adam Neate Bonanza”

Mutate Britain

Not sure exactly sure about the details of this, but it looks to be a real quality group show with a wide range of artists. Eelus, Eine, Part2ism, Paul Insect, Pure Evil, Shepard Fairey, and many more. Mutate Britain is the first show at the brand new Behind The Shutters Gallery. Behind The Shutters says it “will demystify the gallery experience whilst keeping the ‘art’ on show exciting and inclusive and above all accessible to everyone. Whether you can afford a £10 poster or a £25,000 original piece of work”

See you at the opening.

Westminster Council To Remove Banksy

Banksy’s icon “One Nation Under CCTV” piece in Westminster is going to be removed.

One Nation Under CCTV - Banksy
One Nation Under CCTV - Banksy. photo by judepics

That’s what The Times says in this article has been decided by the local council.

The Times has learnt that Westminster Council has demanded that a mural by the pseudonymous graffiti artist, a 7m (23 ft) criticism of Britain’s CCTV culture, must be painted over. While other authorities have turned a blind eye to Banksy, the council said yesterday that it would remove any graffiti, regardless of the reputation of its creator. Westminster said that Banksy had no more right to paint graffiti than a child – which, ironically, is the subject of the piece in question (pictured above).

Robert Davis, the chairman of Westminster’s planning committee, said that the personality behind the artwork was irrelevant. “If we condone this then we might as well say that any kid with a spray can is producing art,” he said. “To go and deface other people’s property is graffiti. Just because he’s famous doesn’t give him that right.”

Simply put: this sucks. The piece is fantastic, and fantastically located. In fact, I just told some friends visiting from the states about it tonight, and they are planning visiting the piece. I understand, though do not like, that the councils have to buff some street art, but it is just stupid for them to buff a Banksy. It is a legitimate tourist attraction. And not that I approve of selling street pieces, but the owners of the wall could have made good money just tearing the piece down and selling it instead of letting it get painted over.

Mike Marcus seemed to have the right idea about how to combat the buff with his “Don’t remove me, I’m a Banksy” stencils, but alas, they may no longer be enough to save street art from local councils.

Don't Remove Me
Don't Remove PMP. Photo by Vandalog

The Sky Is Falling

The Dreweatts Urban Art auction underperformed.

Work at Frieze didn’t sell as well as in previous years.

The Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auction was a flop.

Bonhams’ Urban Art auction left great pieces onsold and others at far below the estimate.

The art market, and the urban art market in particular, is not looking good. But is it over?

Adam Martin at  Beautiful Crime says no, and I have to agree. Martin argues for a second wave in the urban art market.

I talked to a number of dealers there and the odd Euro rich punter and the feeling was, the market had gotten a little overheated at the top end of late and this was a ‘shake down auction‘.

Ultimately it’s a positive outcome, greed has been replaced by a need for more realistic pricing. Lesser known Artist’s, Zero, Cept, Word to Mother did well and I think reflect the market’s need to look beyond the Banksy’s and Neate’s which are now in hedgeless hedge fund realms, and look to nurture some new talent.

I’d say this was officially the beginning of the second wave of urban art.

I very much agree with Martin’s prediction of a second wave of urban art. In this second wave, prices readjust and (to an extent) take hype out of the equation, and the size of the midrange market increases, offering underrated artists like Cept, Armsrock, and Know Hope a chance to increase both their fanbase and their prices. Artists like D*Face, on the other hand, may have a hard time in this new market.

The economic downturn is certainly not the end of the genre that some have speculated. In fact, due to the nature of urban art, it would be pretty hard for it to ever die out completely. Because of the anti-establishment and “working man” nature of a lot of urban art, parts of the market should be embraced and grow much stronger during an economic downturn, and others will decline. Essentially, the “real” collectors of urban art will come back into control of the market (for a little while).

I see the urban art market as a bit like a pickup truck on a dirt road. Right now, we’ve hit a rough patch, and when we make it back to a smooth road all the contents of the truck will be a bit jumbled around. Some artists will have fallen to the bottom of the market, and others will rise to the top.

Recent Shows

Thought I’d make a short list of links to some of this week’s street art exhibitions.

1. Shepard Fairey‘s latest exhibit, in DC, has opened, and the opening looks like it was great. Very jealous of whoever got to attend. Arrested Motion has the details.

2. Chris Stain has an online show at Dirty Pilot with some pretty cool stencils. I have a version of the image below (just the center bit though), and it is one my favorite pieces in my collection. Really strong imagery.

Chris Stain - From Here You Can See Tomorrow
Chris Stain - From Here You Can See Tomorrow

3. The Thaw, a group show for charity, opened in London. Matt Small, Pure Evil, Cept, and many others have work in the show. The Thaw raises money for Medical Aid for Iraqi Children.

4. Dain‘s show, Time Machine, at the Brooklynite Gallery has opened this week as well. Arrested Motion once again has the details and more photos.

Dain - Betty Davis
Dain - Betty Davis

5. Burning Candy with Sweet Toof, Cyclops, and Tek 33 is in London at the Satorial Gallery. Looks cool, though I haven’t been yet. Possible updates on this when I get over there, in the mean time, check Graffoto.

6. Frieze Art Fair of course was this weekend in Regent’s Park. Personally, I was unimpressed by 90% of the work, but no doubt there was some good work such as Jake and Dinos Chapman model at the White Cube booth, and some life size army men. Graffoto has some great photos, and I’ll upload my low-quality camera-phone ones tomorrow (my usual camera broke).

7. Art of the State seems to have beat me to posting show round ups this weeks, and they have the info on the exhibits at the Truman Brewery. Opus Art put on Kounter Kulture with all of thier best artists, and Dave White has Planes, Tanks and Automatics.

Graf Wall Vandalized Before It Opened

This article in The Sun caught my eye today.

A BLANK wall built for teenage graffiti artists has been vandalised by an angry resident writing – ”I paid my tax and all I got was this lousy wall”.

The £3,000 6ft high by 30ft long wall was installed so youths could practice their graffiti artwork without using local property.

But ahead of its opening on October 31 the fed-up resident sneaked behind a security fence and daubed a protest about the use of taxpayer’s money.

Personally, I find the whole story hilarious.

First, because the council now thinks they need to repaint the wall. Now, I don’t know the exact details of this wall, and maybe the plan is to repaint it every few months, but it seems like it would be easy enough to just wait until the wall opens and let the kids paint over it.

Second, because they automatically assume that some disgruntled taxpayer did this. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was an ironic teenager. If I lived in Wadebridge and was clever enough, I might have sprayed that even though I like the idea of the wall.

Thirdly, the idea of the wall itself. Yes, I just said i like the idea of the wall, and I do because it gives artists a place to paint where they don’t have to worry about being arrested (or maybe not). I just don’t think this is going to limit the amount of graf in the area. Part of street art and graffiti is the illicit nature of the work.

Hopefully we can see some photos when the wall is opened officially.

Shepard Fairey Obama Video has done a video about Shepard Fairey’s Obama images which includes a pretty cool interview with Shepard Fairey himself talking about the project.

I think this series of images has become a lot of people have realized. Today I saw a friend of mine, who would never normally wear something by the OBEY brand, wearing a t-shirt with the Progress image on it.

Progress by Shepard Fairey
Progress by Shepard Fairey. Photo by BitBoy