Shepard Fairey released some prints using diamond dust, which is quite interesting. As the press release says, “Perhaps most famously used by Andy Warhol, who understood perfectly how to convey a message, Diamond Dust was used to add glamour, transforming ordinary images into coveted objects. The material aligns with Shepard’s work and interest in the seduction of advertising and consumerism. Diamond Dust, literally and metaphorically is superficial, applied to the surface of the print, the luminous effect is both beautiful and alluring.” But it’s one of those things that just gets me thinking about how the art world, much like capitalism, seems so good at absorbing critique and spitting at back out as product. People love the meaningless OBEY icon, so Shepard sells it. Shepard needs to make more product to continue selling to this market he has created, so he takes an old design (or a slight variant, I’m not positive), and adds meaningless diamond dust to it and sells it as something new. The best critiques participate in the system which they critique, but that’s a risky game to play. Of course, I say all this with a print by Shepard hanging on my wall.
OldWalls is a project where the photographer took photos of graffiti in the early 1990’s and recently returned to those spots to take the exact same shots, and then each matching photo is displayed next to its counterpart.
It simultaneously amuses and saddens to me to no end how Richard Hambleton can be promoted and his works purportedly sold for astronomical sums by Valmorbida while at the same time fantastic paintings of his have difficulty reaching 5 figures at auctions when Valmorbida isn’t involved. Hambleton is one of the original street artists from the 1970’s, but his story has never really been told since the 1985 book Street Art by Allan Schwartzman. The short version is that Hambleton’s street art in the 70’s and 80’s, particularly his shadowmen, are easily up there with work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, or Jenny Holzer, but he has never really received due credit.
It’s difficult to say if Standing Lady Shadow #R1-R9 is worth the tens of thousands that a gallery might ask for it, the hundreds of thousands Valmorbida might ask for it, or something else, but I’m pretty confident that anything this solid by Hambleton should go for more than the $6,000 opening bid that artnet has it at right now.
I just hope there’s someone out there with $6,000 and a good home who agrees with me… The auction ends of December 20th just after noon Eastern Standard Time.
So what’s going on here? Why no bids? Do people not want to buy expensive art online? Do people not want to sell good art through an online auction? And what about things like that Richard Hambleton piece going for super cheap, compared to what galleries are trying to sell his work for? I guess that’s that bubble burst, yet again (his auction results are usually much lower than his gallery prices). Maybe one big plus about auctions like this is that they cut through all that hype. Unlike an auction at Christie’s or Sotheby’s, artnet auctions don’t have auctioneers and specialists goading buyers to spend big. And at a quick glance, some of the opening bids look high. Anyway, I’m not going to look through every single listing, but I suspect there might be a few deals hidden in this flop of an auction, if you can wade through everything else.
Artnet.com is having an online urban art auction, which began July 7th and runs through July 23rd. The catalogue contains works by many of the major names in the scene, from the 80s through today, such as Dondi, Crash, Haring, Basquiat, Barry McGee, Banksy, Nick Walker, Faile and Shepard Fairey. There are also some strange, albeit nice, inclusions such as Mr. and Jim Houser, as well as some weaker urban choices, but on the whole this auction is definitely worth checking out as there is a good range of pieces in it.
It is also quite well-presented and easy to use; you can either scroll the catalogue page by page or search by artist. The biographical information is nice to have and I like the inclusion of sales results for comparable work – this is particularly handy if you are considering placing a bid.
I have highlighted a few of my personal favorites. Clicking on the image will take you to the lot.