Street art (or now increasingly called Urban Art) has been my passion for years and it’s beyond weird for me to think about how elevated it’s become.
- Huge article in the Financial Times (paywall) this past week about the Jean-Michel Basquiat show opening at the Barbican. And, of course, the FT is only writing about it because Basquiat is currently the top-selling contemporary artist at auction ($110 million for a street artist!).
- But the most amazing thing this week was that I finally got to meet Martha Cooper, one of my heroes.
- For those of you who don’t know Martha, she is the most famous documentarian of the graffiti/street art scene – in the world! She got her start photographing the New York City graffiti scene in the 1970s and 1980s.
- I was so thunderstruck, I took her photo but forgot to ask if I could take a selfie with her. Ten blocks later, I ran back and she was still there, shooting Lakwena, the British street artist currently doing a new Bowery Mural. Fortunately, Martha agreed to the selfie.
- And now that I have finally met her, I see her around the neighborhood all the time! Funny how that works.
Read on below for highlights about the business of street art from the Financial Times – they provide great perspective on what has made this art genre so major.
Per the Financial Times:
- Street art, sometimes described within the broader category of Urban art, is still in its infancy in the market
- Banksy confirmed he was the creator of two murals on the walls of the Barbican Centre (where Basquiat is showing).
- Banksy wrote: “Major new Basquiat show opens at the Barbican — a place that is normally very keen to clean any graffiti from its walls.”
- People of all ages and demographics are attracted to street art, from schoolchildren to Hollywood’s glitterati, though the art world elite is still wavering.
- Not so at Moniker, a fair dedicated to street art, which opens its eighth edition in London next month with three times more floor space (3,000 sq. ft) for its 29 exhibitors and seven installations.
- The fair’s first New York edition opens in May 2018.
- Social media has been a game changer. Instagram made the market for street art. Banksy has 1.7MM followers, Shepard Fairey has 1MM, Martha Cooper has 170K.
- Hot-ticket contemporary artists such as JR (1MM followers) and Sterling Ruby are relentlessly urban.
- Then of course there is Basquiat, who came to the art world’s attention through his graffiti collective SAMO© at the end of the 1970s.
- Not only does Basquiat now have a major museum show in London, in May his 1982 “Untitled” sold for a record $98m ($110.5m with fees), and so he overtook Andy Warhol as the priciest American artist to sell at auction.