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Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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Posts Tagged ‘Shepard Fairey’

What is street art? Top 5 street artists in the art world- Part II

Posted by artradar on March 10, 2010


STREET ART CULTURE

As street art goes mainstream in Asia, Art Radar takes a look at its roots.

Modern graffiti art originated as an underworld activity and coincided with the hip hop movement in the late 1960’s and early 70’s in New York City [Associated Content], but many artists who started as ‘taggers’ have been recognized by the art world and achieved commercial success. This post will provide an outline of the humble beginnings of street art culture and the artists who have emerged from this culture and into the international art scene.

The common unsanctioned art visible in urban areas is the work of graffiti ‘writers’, who compete for recognition and respect (‘fame’) by having the most pervasive street art in a community. Each artist has his or her own graffiti name (‘tag’), which is creatively written as a signature or autograph and repeated throughout an area. Walls within an area that are sites for expressions of an artist’s or group’s dominance are known as ‘Walls of Fame.’

A strict hierarchy, visible through imagery

Although the graffiti art community may seem unstructured, it adheres to a strict hierarchy among its writers. The most visible or skilled artists are known as ‘kings’, and iconography of crowns within their work is a reference to the writer’s status. Lesser artists can only gain status by impressing a ‘king’.

Unfortunately, part of the reason these writers create graffiti is because it is illicit, and it helps the artist gain notoriety. Lady Pink, a socially conscious veteran street artist whose work is on display at The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Queens Museum of Art, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, the Museum of the City of New York, says:

“You can’t give them a legal wall. They’re not interested. They’re more interested in the aspect of breaking the law, being vandals and being rebellious. They don’t have the skills for it or the desire to paint something in the daytime.” [Queens Tribune]

From street to chic

In past years street art has progressed beyond its gang related origins and is now appreciated among the highest contemporary art, with a matching price tag. Ralph Taylor of Sotheby’s, who has organized contemporary street art sales for auction in London, says:

“There is a natural progression from the young artists collected by Charles Saatchi in the 1990s to the street artists of today. People used to be looking for the next Damien Hirst; now they are after the next Banksy.” [Telegraph]

The artist Banksy, whose identity is kept secret for fear of the legal consequences for his art, is perhaps the best known street artist today. Banksy’s You Told That Joke Twice surpassed price estimates to sell for $266,000 at Christie’s on February 11, 2010, in a sale among pieces by Andy Warhol and Anish Kapoor. Another piece by Banksy, titled I Fought the Law is scheduled for auction at Christie’s on March 23, 2010, with an estimated price of $15,020-$22,530. Another two works by Banksy, titled Bomb Hugger and Armoured Car, sold at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Sale on February 11, 2010, selling for $88,396 and $73,976, respectively.

Works by the American graffiti artist Barry Mcgee, also known as ‘Ray Fong’ and ‘Twist’ (and variations of the word twist, including Twister and Twisty) have also frequented  the Christie’s auction, commanding prices up to $113,525.

Art Radar’s Top 5 Street Artists who have achieved success in the art world

Banksy – Possibly the best known street artist and an icon of the street art movement. He began his career creating street artworks in and around London, but has been legitimately accepted into the higher realms of the art world. He has been a regular at art auctions fetching high prices, and is presented with the most exclusive contemporary artists at gallery shows. Banksy will be on display in Hong Kong at Fabrick Contemporary Art in the company of artists Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, and Gilbert and George, in The Great British Show, running Feb 25- March 25, 2010.

Banksy’s Asian museum exhibition debut was the show ‘Love Art 08‘, which ran April 30-May 13, 2008 at the Hong Kong Art Center, and featured other contemporary and pop art heavy weights like Damien Hirst and Robert Indiana.

He has also recently completed a film titled Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is touted to be a ‘street art disaster movie’, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan 24, 2010.

Here you can view some works on display at the Bristol Museum’s Banksy Exhibition 2009.


Shepard Fairey–  Educated over 20 years ago at the Rhode Island School of Design, he began his career making guerilla street art in Los Angeles, but has since expanded his concept, which revolves around the image of Andre the Giant, into an entire product line branded  ‘OBEY’. Canvas artworks have also been developed from this iconography, including his Peace Goddess, which sold at Sotheby’s for $80,500 in the company of works by Banksy and Andy Warhol. His first museum exhibition, titled Supply and Demand, was at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, from Febuary 16-August 16, 2009, and included his iconic Obama Poster, which now hangs in the United State’s National Portrait Gallery.

See Shepard Fairey explain why he created the Obama Hope poster and his OBEY campaign here:


Adam Neate– This UK graffiti artist has been recognized by the London National Gallery, the Tate, and the London National Portrait Gallery. He has been shown by the Elms Lesters Gallery in London, and in 2007 his painting Suicide Bomber sold for £78,500 at Sotheby’s. On November 14, 2008, in an event The London Show, he and helpers left 1,000 prints, worth a total of £1 million, around London streets for anyone to pick up and keep. He says: “The whole concept of the free art thing was challenging the notion of art as a commodity and its worth in society. Now I’m taking that to another level, testing the viability of separating art from commerce.” [Skyarts]

Adam’s Neate’s Asian debut was at the Schoeni Gallery in Hong Kong on June 19-July 18, 2009.

See Adam Neate speak on his London Show:


Swoon, whose real name is Caledonia ‘Callie’ Currry, is a New York City street artist, and has been recognized by the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Art Basel Miami, MoMA, and the Brooklyn Museum.  She crashed the 2009 Venice Biennale with a 30-person ‘Swimming Cities’ performance project, titled The Clutches of Cuckoo. She and her ‘pirate’ crew sailed from Slovenia to dock off the Grand Canal of Certosa Island in a ship made of New York City garbage, to make an extraordinary entrance.

See Swoon speak on her works at the MoMA in a two part interview series:


Barry McGee, also known as Ray Fong, Twist, or Twisty, is a San Francisco, California based street artist and cult figure whose work was included in the Venice Biennale in 2001, and the 2009-2010 Biennale de Lyon, France. He has been exhibited at the Watari-um Museum in Tokyo, the 2008 Carnegie International, the Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Maryland, and the BALTIC Centre in UK. His work has also sold at Christie’s, commanding high prices.

See some of his work in this interview video with Art 21 for PBS.

EW/KCE

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Posted in American, Business of art, Graffiti, Lists, Public art, Research, Street art, Uncategorised | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What is Street Art? Vandalism, graffiti or public art- Part I

Posted by artradar on January 21, 2010


URBAN ART DEFINITIONS

In recent years there has been an increasing interest in an ephemeral and viral form of art that is marking urban settings around the world, and has developed a flourishing sub-culture all its own. Now though, street art is going mainstream. Auctioneers, collectors and museum directors are scrabbling to learn urban art vocabulary and develop positions on the big street art issues. In this primer post Art Radar gives you a heads up on what you need to know.

What is Street Art?

There is as yet no simple definition of street art. It is an amorphous beast encompassing art which is found in or inspired by the urban environment. With anti-capitalist and rebellious undertones, it is a democratic form of popular public art probably best understood by seeing it in situ. It is not limited to the gallery nor easily collected or possessed by those who may turn art into a trophy.

Considered by some a nuisance, for others street art is a tool for communicating views of dissent, asking difficult questions and expressing political concerns.

Its definition and uses are changing: originally a tool to mark territorial boundaries of urban youth today it is even seen in some cases as a means of  urban beautification and regeneration.

Whether it is regarded as vandalism or public art, street art has caught the interest of the art world and its lovers of beauty.

Is street art vandalism?

In an interview with the Queens Tribune, New York City’s Queens Museum of Art Executive Director Tom Finkelpearl said public art “is the best way for people to express themselves in this city.” Finkelpearl, who helps organize socially conscious art exhibitions, added, “Art gets dialogue going. That’s very good.” However, he doesn’t find  graffiti to be art, and says, “I can’t condone vandalism… It’s really upsetting to me that people would need to write their name over and over again in public space. It’s this culture of fame. I really think it’s regrettable that they think that’s the only way to become famous.”

Is street art illegal?

The legal distinction between permanent graffiti and art is permission, but the topic becomes even more complex regarding impermanent, nondestructive forms of graffiti (yarn bombing, video projection, and street installation.)

With permission, traditional painted graffiti is technically considered public art. Without permission, painters of public and private property are committing vandalism and are, by definition, criminals. However, it still stands that most street art is unsanctioned, and many artists who have painted without permission, (Banksy, Shepard Fairey)  have been glorified as legitimate and socially conscious artists.

Although it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to clearly define what unsanctioned imagery is art and what is not, the effects of such images can be observed and conclusions can be reached regarding images’ function within a public environment.

Banksy, North London

Broken Window Theory: Vandalism vs. Street Art

Vandalism is inexcusable destruction of property, and has been shown to have negative repercussions on its setting. It has also been observed by criminologists to have a ‘snowball effect’ of generating more negativity within its vicinity. Dr. James Q. Wilson and Dr. George Kelling studied the effects of disorder (in this case, a broken window) in an urban setting, and found that one instance of neglect increases the likelihood of more broken windows and graffiti will appear. Then, there is an observable increase in actual violent crime. The researchers concluded there is a direct link between vandalism, street violence, and the general decline of a society.

Their theory, named the Broken Window Theory and first published in 1982, argues that crime is the inevitable result of disorder, and that if neglect is present in a place, whether it is disrepair or thoughtless graffiti, people walking by will think no one cares about that place, and the unfavorable damage is therefore acceptable.

Street Art and Gentrification

Thoughtful and attractive street art, however, has been suggested to have regenerative effects on a neighborhood. In fact, the popular street artist Banksy, who has catapulted his guerilla street art pastime into a profitable career as an auctionable contemporary artist, has come under criticism for his art contributing to the gentrification of neighborhoods. Appropriate Media claims that:

“Banksy… sells his lazy polemics to Hollywood movie stars for big bucks… Graffiti artists are the performing spray-can monkeys for gentrification. In collusion with property developers, they paint deprived areas bright colours to indicate the latest funky inner city area ripe for regeneration. Pushing out low income families in their wake, to be replaced by middle class metrosexuals with their urban art collections.” [Times Online]

Banksy himself has received requests from residents in the neighborhoods he paints, which ask that he stop painting so they can continue to afford homes in the neighborhoods where they grew up.  A letter received by Banksy reads:

“My brother and me were born here and have lived here all our lives, but these days so many yuppies and students are moving here that neither of us can afford to buy a house where we grew up anymore. Your graffities are undoubtably part of what makes these [people] think our area is cool. You’re obviously not from around here, and after you’ve driven up the house prices you’ll just move on. Do us a favor and go do your stuff somewhere else like Brixton.”

Forms of Street Art

Traditional- Painting on the surfaces of public or private property that is visible to the public, commonly with a can of spray paint or roll-on paint. It may be comprised of just simple words (commonly the writer’s name) or be more artful and elaborate, covering a surface with a mural image.

Stencil– Painting with the use of a homemade stencil, usually a paper or cardboard cutout, to create an image that can be easily reproduced. The desired design is cut out of a selected medium, and the image is transferred to a surface through the use of spray paint or roll-on paint.


Sticker(aka sticker bombing, slap tagging, and sticker tagging) Propagates an image or message in public spaces using homemade stickers. These stickers commonly promote a political agenda, comment on a policy or issue, or comprise an avantgarde art campaign. Sticker art is considered a subcategory of postmodern art.


Mosaic- Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of smaller parts or pieces, to resemble a single giant piece of art.

Video Projection– Digitally projecting a computer-manipulated image onto a surface via a light and projection system.

Street installation- Street installations are a growing trend within the ‘street art’ movement. Whereas conventional street art and graffiti is done on surfaces or walls, ‘street installations’ use 3-D objects and space to interfere with the urban environment. Like graffiti, it is non-permission based and once the object or sculpture is installed it is left there by the artist.

Wood blocking- Artwork painted on a small portion of plywood or similar inexpensive material and attached to street signs with bolts. Often the bolts are bent at the back to prevent removal. It has become a form of graffiti used to cover a sign, poster, or any piece of advertisement that stands or hangs.

Flash mobbing- A large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse. The term flash mob is generally applied only to gatherings organized via telecommunications, social networking, and viral emails. The term is generally not applied to events organized by public relations firms or as publicity stunts. This can also be considered mass public performance art.

Yarn bombing- Yarn Bombing is a type of street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted cloth rather than paint or chalk. The practice is believed to have originated in the U.S. with Texas knitters trying to find a creative way to use their leftover and unfinished knitting projects, but has since spread worldwide. While other forms of graffiti may be expressive, decorative, territorial, socio-political commentary, advertising or vandalism, yarn bombing is almost exclusively about beautification and creativity.

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Posted in Definitions, Graffiti, Open air, Profiles, Public art, Social, Street art, Urban | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »