The future of street art

A Banksy murial on Portobello road was sold on ebay for £208,100 (approx. $400,000) the price did not include removal costs. The wall belonged to Luti Fagbenle who felt that he could not “really justify owning a piece of art worth as much as it is.”

The Banksy mural on Portobello road

(Photo by Cactusbones) (CC by-nc-sa)

Street art has been growing for a long time and Banksy must be seen as one of the most widely known artists in the genre. But he is not alone. As Art Threat reports the world’s first Urban Art auction at Bonhams Fine Art Auctioneers will be held on February 5th.

What does this mean for the future of Street Art? Art Threat has written an interesting comment on street arts ephemeral nature as an important feature and Banksy has added a comment on the his webpage:

“Aren’t street art auctions a bit lame?
I don’t agree with auction houses selling street art – its undemocratic, it glorifies greed and I never see any of the money.”

So the artists don’t get paid and the artwork is ripped, literally sometimes, out of their context – how will this effect the art? Previously the most exploitative use of graffiti has been street art photo books. These products raise exciting questions about copyright and graffiti (blogged about this issue earlier here and here) but selling the works raises other exciting questions.

The person buying the work will most probably remove it to display it elsewhere. This de-contextualizes of the art but it also adds a disincentive to the artist. Now it is not enough to know that your work will be painted over but it may also be removed and sold to enrich someone else. Your work may become a commodity to be regularly bought and sold without the artists control or permission. Should the artists be concerned?

(Story on BBC & Observer)

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