Street Art artists under 40



Friday is Top day! Every alternate Friday, Artprice posts a theme-based auction ranking. This week’s topic is the 10 best auction results Street Art artists under 40.

The Street Art movement was born in the streets of New York city in the early 1970’s. It spread quickly in the early 1980’s thanks to the talent of the young Jean-Michel BASQUIAT who flooded the streets of New York city with tags under the pseudonym SAMO (same old shit) and soon became a global phenomenon. Artists such as the young Franco-American BANDO imported Street Art to France where it flourished and is continuing to grow. Various generations of artists have each left their mark on the streets, until their works end up on the walls of galleries and museums. Apart from the obvious financial interest of taking Street Art off the streets, there is also the reality that some artists, tired of seeing their works destroyed and vandalized, simply want to move to a more durable medium. For some, the white walls of a gallery or a museum are therefore just a logical next step. So, less than 50 years after its birth in New York city, Street Art has already made substantial inroads into the world of museums and galleries and, of course, the secondary market where a number of auction records have been set.
Street Art is as an extraordinarily dynamic segment of the art scene in general, and Artprice has looked at its auction results over the last 12 months to identify the stars of the future.

Top 10 : Best auction results for Street Art artists under 40

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 BANKSY $345730 Fetish Lady (2006) 02/15/2012 (Christie’s LONDON)
2 BANKSY $217994 Girl and Balloon () 06/27/2012 (Sotheby’s LONDON)
3 BANKSY $212382 Bronze Rat (2006) 10/14/2011 (Sotheby’s LONDON)
4 BANKSY $189948 Bird and Grenade (2002) 09/14/2011 (Christie’s LONDON)
5 KAWS $155000 « KAWSBOB ENTERS THE STRANGE FOREST » (2011) 11/09/2011 (Christie’s NY)
6 BANKSY $135719 Painting for a Sound System Lorry (1998) 03/28/2012 (Christie’s LONDON)
7 BANKSY $125640 Monkey Detonator (2000) 09/21/2011 (Bonhams LONDON)
8 BANKSY $125856 Bullet Proof David (2006) 10/14/2011 (Sotheby’s LONDON)
9 BANKSY $114631 Love is in the Air (2002) 03/29/2012 (Bonhams LONDON)
10 BANKSY $109914 Bronze Rat (2006) 02/16/2012 (Sotheby’s LONDON)

The Top 10 results for street artists under 40 show, without any shadow of a doubt, the overwhelming dominance of BANKSY who scored 9 of the 10 best results over the last year and who effectively sets the entry ticket to this Top 10 ranking at over $100,000. The only other competitor in these tree-top results is KAWS, who managed to slip in at 5th place with a new auction record of $155,000.

Icon of the young Street Art generation, Banksy is the best-selling artist under 40 both in his home country and the world. Anonymous, with neither name nor face, he was born in Bristol in England in 1974. For 10 years, he adorned the walls of cities all over the world (including Paris, Dakar, London, New York, Bombay…) with stencils, tags and other Street Art classics! Typical of his non-conformist humour, in 2004, he printed a large quantity of counterfeit £10 banknotes with the portrait of Princess Diana instead of the Queen of England and changed the words « Bank of England » to « Banksy of England ». Banksy’s anarchic interest in appropriation, distortion, and all things facetious is very much in tune with the art world. In his recent film Exit Through The Gift Shop (The Debt) we follow the path of a certain MR BRAINWASH who is hugely successful in Contemporary Art circles by diverting revenues from Street Art and Pop Art! His illicit urban operations – halfway between poetry and corrosive humour – have quickly earned him a privileged place in the art world. Banksy’s auction career started in 2005: Bonhams and Sotheby’s sold four works including a canvas titled Mother and Child which doubled its high estimate when it fetched six thousand pounds (nearly $10,000, Sotheby’s London, 25 October 2005). Thereafter, the Banksy phenomenon mushroomed, fuelled by an extraordinary level of popular and media attention, particularly after his stencils on the walls of Ramallah in the occupied territories (2005). Film-star collectors started buying his works, like Christina Aguilera, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, igniting his price index like a rocket in 2006 and in February 2008, when the Contemporary Art market was close to its peak, a work by Banksy titled Keep it spotless was included for the first time in a Sotheby’s sale in New York city where it fetched over one million dollars ($1.7m or €1.16m). In 2012, his market was still bubbling: his 9 places in this ranking range from $109,000 for Bronze Rat (Sotheby’s London, 16 February 2012) to nearly $346,000 for Fetish Lady (15 February 2012, Christie’s London). At the Olympic Games of Art, Banksy is the undisputed champion!

Kaws, whose real name is Brian Donnelly, was born in New York in 1974. His collaboration with Disney Studios was crucial in building his style, which, along with his precision of line and flat tint colours, unequivocally reminds us of the cartoon world. Many of the symbolic elements of the famous cartoon studios can be found in his works, such as the body of Mickey Mouse and the typical white hands / gloves used by Disney! With large-scale production means at his disposal, Kaws produces T-shirts, serigraphs and original works that are somewhere between Pop Art and Art Toys and draw on a cast of bestiary characters: Chum, Accomplice, Companion, Bendy, Companion 5 Years Later, OF Dissected 5YL, JPP. The artist, who some refer to as the American Murakami would not have found a better team than the Perrotin gallery for professional support, and in 2012, the gallery plans to continue to exploit the success of the artist. After a highly publicized presentation in Hong Kong at the opening of its new gallery space, Perrotin will be hosting an exhibition of Kaws’ work in Paris in November. The artist’s international ball is rolling and we expect him to receive plenty of attention over the coming months. Kaws’s auction debut was in 2008, the same year as his first exhibition at the Perrotin gallery, and that year he signed no less than 13 auction results. Until 2009, he rarely exceeded $3,000, although his best result was $ 10,000 for a print (Running Chum, Phillips de Pury & Company, London, 25 April 2009). However, in 2010, he crossed the $10,000 threshold with Thirteen Works: Untitled which fetched $15,600 on 13 February (Phillips de Pury & Company). Thereafter his results yo-yoed until his sensational $155,000 for an acrylic on canvas titled KAWSBOB ENTERS THE STRANGE FOREST (9 November 2011, Christie’s London) that earned his 5th place in this ranking. A sort of cross between a Murakami flower and the head of Sponge Bob Square Pants, KAWSBOB ENTERS THE STRANGE FOREST, generated by far the best auction result the artist has ever signed, almost 10 times more than his previous record of $17,000 set in October 2010 (Phillips de Pury & Company, London). For the time being, this result remains an isolated case. Forthcoming auctions will tell us more about a possible surge in his price index.

Clearly by no means exhausted, the Banksy mania leaves little room for other artists at the top of the tree. Any street artist wishing to dethrone the world’s most famous anonymous person will have to cleverly combine exploitation of the media with an artistic language that is universally recognised as hard-hitting and mischievous. However, although Kaws’ work is far from Banksy’s pertinent statements and corrosive humour, he nevertheless has the support of a major gallery (Perrotin) to promote his auction results. A little further down this week’s auction ranking (i.e. outside the top 10), we find the recent good results of the Brazilians OS GEMEOS, the American José PARLA, the Frenchman Antoine GAMARD and the English street artists CYCLOPS and SWOON. All these artist should be followed closely as well as two of the youngest: NUNCA (born 1983) and VHILS (born 1987), both of whom have just made their auction debuts.