This week, Amazon launched the Amazon Street Art Project, which features new limited edition artwork from stikman, Faith47, AIKO, Gaia, Logan Hicks, Ganzeer, and Ron English. Each piece in the project is only an edition of 50, so be sure to have a look before they’re all sold out. Since I curated the series, I thought it would be good spend some time looking at what makes each piece in the collection special.
stikman’s print based on a series from 2008 that he’s revamped to turn into his very first screenprint. What I love about Overture is the illusion of 3 layers that stikman created out of the two black and green layers, simply by printing black layer (both the musical score and the stikman figure’s shadow) on top of the green layer.
With AIKO’s Bunny, we started with a straightforward concept: A print of Aiko’s classic Bunny icon. Then, AIKO decided to go overboard in the best way possible, adding layers and layers of hand-painted customization to every print.
Gaia’s screenprint makes great use of half-tones, something I’ve often seen go poorly with other artists. Usually, you see artists using half-tones to skimp on adding what should be another layer of color to their print, but Gaia uses them masterfully for Amani, adding essential detail and depth to his work.
Logan Hicks’ Wasted Lives is the main reason I keep having to avoid calling this a print series. Wasted Lives is not a print. It’s a completely hand-painted edition. Using his pioneering stencil techniques, Hicks created an edition of 50 original works on paper.
You really have to get in close to appreciate the full beauty of Ganzeer’s After the Starstuff. Yes, the image itself, of the Earth from space and then close-ups on a pile of man-made trash, is powerful, but Ganzeer took this to another level by making this a letterpress print and using handmade hemp paper.
And finally, Ron English’s Monarch Elephant, because if I was going to be working with one of the world’s largest retailers to bring art to a huge new audience, I also needed someone to slip in a cheeky celebration of “the art of evolution.”
In December, an eclectic set of seven prints and editioned works from some of the world’s most interesting street artists will go for sale on… Amazon.com. Starting December 7th and available for one week only, Amazon.com will be offering new works by Ron English, stikman, Faith47, Gaia, AIKO, Logan Hicks, and Ganzeer. There are three screenprints, one etching, one letterpress, one done entirely with spraypaint and stencils, and one hand-finished giclée. Each artist’s piece is an edition of 50, and the prices range from $200-550. If a lot of the artists in the line up look familiar to regular readers of Vandalog, that’s because I curated the collection.
This is the first time that Amazon has worked with a curator to arrange a series of new works specifically for them. When I was brought into the mix, the idea was pretty open-ended: A series of prints by seven street artists to be released in December. With that in mind, I wanted to capture a small slice of the variety that exists within street art, to show how street art resists being defined by a single style or medium. That’s how we wound up with a collection that ranges from Ganzeer’s subtly dark letterpress print to AIKO’s bold pop art utilizing screenprinting and spaypaint.
Fine Art Auctions Miami, the auction house that almost sold Banksy’s “Slave Labour” and “Wet Dog” pieces in 2013, is back at trying to sell street pieces. This time though, it’s not just Banksy’s whose street art and murals that they’ve put on offer. In an auction that took place this evening, FAAM have included cut up segments of concrete and metal that were removed from the street and contain what were once works by Banksy, Faile, Kenny Scharf, Bambi, Aiko and Terror161/J.SON. I say that these chunks of the street include what were once street pieces by those artists because the pieces have been removed from the street, destroying the context of the work. Kind of selling a ripped apart corner of the Mona Lisa. In Bambi’s case, it appears that she has given permission for the work to be removed and sold, so maybe that’s still her artwork. J.SON was unaware of the sale of the piece of metal containing his former artwork, but I do not have comments from the other artists, though I find it highly unlikely that they approved of the removal of those wall segments or this auction. Yesterday, Caroline posted an interview with FAAM’s resident street art expert, and today we have the auction results…
Below, I’ve got coverage of the street pieces that were up for sale, but it wasn’t just street pieces for sale. If you want to see more highlights, I was live tweeting the auction, so you can read some of the other results on my twitter or here.
Some of you might be thinking “Hey, those were for the public to enjoy!” or “Why should an unaffiliated auction house profit from the work/legal risks of these artists?” Good questions. But consider this… Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a literal piece of New York City from the safety of their home?
Ethical qualms aside, FAAM contacted Vandalog with an opportunity that we just couldn’t pass up: An interview with the auction house’s official “street art expert” Sebastien Laboureau of Moonstar Fine Art Advisors. Since many published authors and curators with extensive knowledge of street art and graffiti still don’t consider themselves experts, I decided to see what I could learn from a real street art expert…
Caroline Caldwell: At what point would a street artist be considered a ‘sell out’? If possible, provide examples.
Sebastien Laboureau, Street Art Expert: Art has a market, and street artists also sell their works, as long as artists stay true to their personal style and create from their hearts the concept does not apply. Recently many works from street artists sell at auctions, and in galleries because this art is contemporary and talks to a wide audience and public. Banksy is the leading street artist, and he sells hundreds of works everywhere in the world every year at increasing prices.
CC: The Banksy’s “Bandaged Heart Balloon” from her residency in New York City is a portion of the wall that was physically removed and transported to Miami. How do you suggest or imagine people display large pieces like this in their homes?
Expert: Street art is amazing in the way that there is no set medium, street artists can work on canvas, metal, walls, doors. The beauty of it is to keep it in its original medium, we find that collectors enjoy buying and displaying street art because it feels like the work is created in their home.
CC: How much of the art available in this auction was actually relocated from the street to the auction house?
Expert: Quite a few came directly from the streets, including two Banksy walls, a metal roll down gate by Kenny Scharf, and another large security gate by Lady Aiko & Terror 161. The great thing about these works is most of them were created in the street and will live a second life now. They will be preserved for eternity.
CC: If a street artist paints work on a canvas, should it be considered ‘street art’ or just ‘art’?
Expert: I do not feel the need to differentiate between the two, all is art, street art is art regardless medium it is created on.
CC: What is the difference between a ‘street art’ and a mural?
Expert: Street art is a style of painting and a mural is large scale work done on a building, one is genre and other is a medium.
CC: Who was the first authentic street artist to refer to themselves as a “street artist”?
Expert: The reality is that street art has always been around us. Some say street art was born in the late 70’s in New York City through graffiti art in public places. Some called it vandalism, some are still calling it vandalism… THIS IS ART!
CC: Should street artists in New York have NYC at the end of their Instagram handle?
Expert: Street artists should have any handle they please, to show where they have come from or where they are working. New York City is very active in street art, but Miami has also become a street art mecca, with so many murals painted over the past year with an incredible quality and concentration in the Wynwood District. Street art is everywhere, in the London suburbs, in Barcelona, Paris, everywhere! And even in museums now.
CC: Would it be advantageous for street artists to align their personal brands with current trends in urban wear?
Expert: Historically, street art has been linked to hip hop. Fashion has always been intertwined with art. There is no limitation into what can and should be done!
CC: Is illegal street art graffiti?
Expert: It is still illegal in many parts and areas of the world, but more and more artists have been granted areas where they can create their works. Art is above any law, as art is life! Art pertains to our everyday life, and everywhere I look when I see art I see beauty.
CC: Should there be a different word for street artists who are female?
Expert: There are more and more female street artists. We have great examples at our auction including Bambi and Swoon. Swoon has a museum show set-up in the Brooklyn Museum in April. Kazilla is a very talented street artist from the Wynwood who will be showing works and has brought local street artists together for the exhibition. There are many others! Once again, it makes no difference! ART IS ART!
CC: How long do you need to do the street arts before you’re considered a street artist?
Expert: There is no lead-time. A street artist is an artist that happens to use the streets as their canvas, there is no school. Some artists are better than others, but once again, there is no diploma to become a street artist!
CC: What’s the best city to get blog coverage in?
Expert: Miami is now becoming the street art mecca! But street art is everywhere in the world now.
This year Wywood Walls turned five and to mark the special occasion curator Jeffrey Deitch called on on the finest ladies in the field for Women on the Walls. International artists Aiko, Miss Van, Fafi, Maya Hayuk, Lady Pink, Faith47, Lakwena, Kashink, Sheryo, Olek, Toofly, Claw Money, Jessie & Katey, Myla, and Shamsia Hassani all created murals or showed in the adjacent exhibition space. The participating artists have come from cities such as Cape Town, Paris, New York, and London. Part gallery part mural exhibition, the project acts as a history guide to the great presence of women muralists.
Women on the Walls is a dream come true and also a proverbial screw you to people who say that the reason women artists are often overshadowed in the media is due to a dearth in street art. That, to be blunt, is bullshit. Older artists and the younger generation they inspired came together in the Wynwood district of Miami this Art Basel to prove their stronghold in the public art community. The scope of media alone proves their mastery of the craft as spray paint, yarn, text, stencils, and free handed characters all co-mingle to form a variety that has something to please most tastes.
Not only is the perfect storm of artists curated in this year’s Wynwood Walls enough to be in awe of, additionally Martha Cooper has shared some breathtaking progress photos. As artfully as the walls are decorated, each image thoughtfully reveals the personas behind the iconography. Each picture displays the strength of these women, whether unveiling the sheer amount of effort behind a production to those who stand boldly in front of completed pieces. Cooper shows that these women are heroes, or warriors as Toofly depicts, taking on whatever challenges lay in their wake and simply killing it.
Great piece for Better Out Than In today, although as I imagine Banksy expected, the piece is already in the hands of someone else. According to my source who got up close to the piece, Banksy’s Sphinx sculpture is not entirely made of cinderblocks, but the main bust and possibly more of it is made of some sort of foam and then coated with a thin layer of concrete dust.
I was going to write all about how this piece is a fantastic continuation of Banksy fascination with crowd response, and how this piece is really not about how the piece looks, but whether or not people would steal chunks of it or the whole thing, paralleling the history of theft and preservation that plagues real Egyptian monuments. But then Hyperallergic did that really well. So please, do read their article on this piece.
Chicago’s Vertical Gallery has a group show opening this weekend featuring the work of some of the world’s top stencil artists (and some artists who are just stencil artists in the world). sten(t)-səl includes over a dozen artists, including John Fekner, XOOOOX, Aiko and Rene Gagnon. It opens this Saturday from 6-10pm and runs through July 27th.
It’s not my intention to shame artists who collaborate with labels and “big brands” to support themselves, however I feel that there is a distinct line between using a brand’s notoriety to proliferate one’s own art and “selling out”. D*Face is an example of good corpo-collaboration as he seemed to have a lot of freedom when he worked with Smirnoff on a project which allowed him to do things he would have never been able to do on his own. By definition, selling out is what happens when an artist is willing to compromise their personal goals (i.e. propagating a message, promoting a distinct style, nurturing certain ideas/reactions, etc.) because of cash cash cash cash cash.
Louis Vuitton has invited Aiko, Os Gemeos and Retna to help design a series of scarves. Aiko refers to her work as having a graffiti influence and says ,”We break the law with wildstyle”, which seemed a bit ironic given that she is the only artist involved who does not come from a graffiti background and yet was the only artist to mention such things. As one commenter says, “Just waiting for Kidult to hear about this…” 12ozProphet has an interesting little read on some more examples of graffiti in couture, including a previous line from Louis Vuitton. Similarly, Krink and Coach will be releasing a collaborative line of bags this spring. That might just be coincidental timing or it maybe it was some Devil Wears Prada-esque trend carefully planned by the cigar smoking board members of some fashion-world back room.
Who do you think will buy these products?
Do you think they will know the significance or want to learn more about the artists?
For the last week or so until today, we’ve been in the process changing Vandalog’s web hosts. No need to get into the technical details, but now the site should run more smoothly and with less downtime. Unfortunately it means that we haven’t been able to write anything new on the site since that process began (everything that’s gone online was pre-scheduled). So this is a mega-link-o-rama combining the usual weekend link-o-rama content with stuff that I could have written about last week even if I’d had the time.
Martha Cooper turned 70 this weekend, and the graffiti community came together at Bowery and Houston to give her a giant surprise birthday present (pictured above). How and Nosm told Cooper that they were planning to repaint their piece at Bowery and Houston and told her to come by at noon on Saturday, but they didn’t tell her how they were going to have to piece repainted. They brought together a bunch of new and old graffiti legends and painted a giant blockbuster tribute to Cooper. BSA has plenty more great photos of the piece in progress and a perfect shot of Cooper reacting to seeing the mural.
WK Interact’s pop-up show in NYC is absolutely fantastic, a must-see show. Think it this way: This show, as I understand it, is a retrospective but it’s made up of the work that WK had in his studio, not work borrowed or on the secondary market from collectors, so this is a lot of unsold work. And yet, the show is still one of the strongest I’ve seen from any artist in quite a while, and the work holds up just fine next to anything else by WK. Even the work that has been sitting in the WK’s studio for a few years is just masterpiece after masterpiece. Good stuff.
Mr. Brainwash has lost another lawsuit by a photographer upset with MBW’s appropriation. Basically, it boils down to MBW’s work being too similar to the original photograph, with no original contributions to the work by MBW.
It appears that Phil Frost hit a massive billboard in LA, and then the billboard was stolen. But the whole thing seems like a shady PR scam for Ace Gallery. Melrose&Fairfax has the full story, but one point they don’t make is that Ace Gallery has a history of controversy, so that makes me even more doubtful that this billboard and its theft are real. Also, let’s face it, there’s a good chance that the billboard is illegal anyway since this was in LA, so who cares if the ad was stolen off of the billboard?
From the great minds of The Heavy Projects and Public Ad Campaign, Re+Public has emerged as the collaborative effort to revision and “democratize” public space through the use of their Augmented Reality app. Two new videos have recently been released which show this technology in full effect: (above) the app reacts to preexisting murals by How & Nosm, Aiko, Retna, and Ryan McGinness at Miami’s Wynwood Walls by turning the murals into giant 3D animations, and (below) the app unveils the timeline of New York City’s Bowery and Houston wall, including the work of Keith Haring, Faile, Barry McGee, Aiko and others who have historically left their mark on the wall.