Who profits from street art? The artist or whoever sells it?

Tuesday, 5 March, 2013

An mural by UK street artist Banksy, that had been residing on the side of a building in North London, was recently extracted from the wall, and listed for auction in the US. The work is expected to sell for around US$500,000 but I doubt that Banksy will see a single cent of whatever proceeds the artwork realises.

The incident raises the question though of who owns, and therefore profits, from artworks that are created, illegally to boot, on private property.

The piece in question is titled “Slave Labour,” and first appeared on the side of a discount store in North London in May 2012. CNN reports that many residents grew quite fond of the piece and the attention it gave the neighborhood. Unfortunately for those residents, the piece was abruptly cut out of the wall last week. News soon emerged that the owner of the building had ordered the extraction in order to “preserve” the work. Well, “preserve” is apparently synonymous with “profit off” in the owner’s mind: “Slave Labour” has turned up in the catalog of an auction house in Miami, and will be sold this Saturday in the “Modern, Contemporary and Street Art” collection for an estimated $500,000 to $700,000.

It seems amazing to me, by the way, that given the degree of surveillance in public places, where much of Banksy’s work appears, that his, or her, identity still remains a mystery, even if some people feel they know who the elusive artist is.

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Should be in an art museum, the street crimes of Banksy

Tuesday, 16 November, 2010

Vandalism to some, a high art form to others, a selection of UK street artist Banksy’s artworks.

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Banksy’s lucky break, not being caught on his first escapade

Thursday, 30 September, 2010

Prolific and mysterious UK street artist and activist Banksy describes his early days starting out as a graffiti artist:

I was 16 years old when I first trespassed onto some railway tracks and wrote the initials of the graffiti crew (of which I was the only member) on a wall. Afterwards the most incredible thing happened – absolutely nothing. No dog chased me, no thunderbolt from God shut down to punish me, and my mum didn’t even notice I’d been gone. That was the night I realized you could get away with it.

Banksy’s skill, or might that be fortune, in avoiding detection on that first sortie does beg the question though, what might have happened had he have been caught?

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If Banksy doesn’t deserve the Turner Prize who does?

Friday, 17 April, 2009

Jonathan Jones puts the case for not nominating well known British street artist Banksy for this year’s Turner Prize.

But perhaps I’ll mention an artist I decided not to put forward. A perverse devil in me flirted with Banksy. This really was perverse because I’ve denounced this artist many times. I simply felt that the Turner was a chance to reconsider all my prejudices, to re-examine ideas that might have become too rigid. Perhaps putting Banksy forward for the Turner might give the public a chance to actually engage with his art instead of just hearing about it? Another motive was less pure: I’d like this year’s Turner to make a big impact and Banksy’s name might pull in punters.

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Melbourne street art, or graffiti, depending how you see it

Thursday, 7 August, 2008

Hoiser Lane in Melbourne is the place to check out some world class artwork, which also includes contributions from well known international artists such as Banksy.

There is a huge street art and graffiti culture in Melbourne. Unlike most Graffiti which is seen as a public nuisance, it is often encouraged and often even commissioned by businesses in and around Melbourne. There are even official walking tours and and art trails that center around finding and showcasing the best artwork and murals.

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Has Banksy been unmasked?

Friday, 18 July, 2008

I’m surprised this hasn’t made a bigger splash… a British newspaper, The Daily Mail believes it has discovered the identity of guerrilla street artist, Banksy.

After an exhaustive year-long investigation in which we have spoken to dozens of friends, former colleagues, enemies, flatmates and members of Banksy’s close family, The Mail on Sunday has come as close as anyone possibly can to revealing his identity. And far from being a radical tearaway from an inner-city council estate, the man we have identified as Banksy is, perhaps all too predictably, a former public schoolboy brought up in middle-class suburbia.

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Graffiti guerilla has a spray at capitalism

Saturday, 3 November, 2007

Graffiti guerilla has a spray at capitalism.

The municipal councils of Hackney and Tower Hamlets, in east London, have declared war on British street artist Banksy, and intend to remove his work which is especially prominent in London’s north and east suburbs.

Alan Laing, Hackney’s councillor for neighbourhoods, said: “We target areas that have become ‘grot spots’ where graffiti can go hand-in-hand with fly tipping [dumping of rubbish], vandalism and other antisocial behaviour.”

Not everyone refers to Banksy’s work using the terms vandalism and antisocial behaviour though, and some are happy to pay large sums of money for this “grot spot” art.

In October the auctioneer Bonham’s sold 11 of his works for £540,000 ($1.2 million). Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are collectors, as is the British artist Damien Hirst.

Banksy sees his work as a counter balance, and response, to the corporate branding that is plastered all over urban centres, he writes in his book Wall and Piece.

“The people who truly deface our neighbourhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff… Well, they started the fight and the wall is the weapon of choice to hit them back.”

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