Buy A Banksy For 8 Bucks

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Remember when Banksy was in New York and sold pieces of work for $60 each outside Central Park? Remember how pissed you were, realizing that would be the only time you would even come close to owning a piece from the famed graffiti artist? Dry those eyes.

My Art Invest (a London art exchange) is letting collectors buy shares of a Banksy. How does it work? Exactly how it sounds, it’s basically like a time-share for art. A buyer who gets their hands on a piece can stare at it at home for a quarter of a year.

Tip: throw as many dinner parties as you can in those three months so you can impress all of your friends. Learn more about the traveling work here.

 

When Andy Warhol Walked In… & Walked Out (His Diary Excerpt Inside)

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This past Monday would have been Andy Warhol’s 84th birthday. It’s hard to imagine a world without Andy, and it’s hard to imagine Andy at 84. He hasn’t been replaced. The concept of "downtown,” of art-influenced clubbing, has never adjusted to his loss. Going back before "back in the day” for most of you, there was a scene that was led by the creative crowd. In my club days, I started each night with the concept of having my joint cool enough "in case Andy Warhol walked in.” It was the way I set my goals, got up for the game. On occasion, he would walk in.

I can’t think of a celebrity that would define the "cool" in this era. I guess club owners were fawning over Lindsay Lohan until recently, and at one point it was Paris Hilton. Of course Jersey Shore peeps or Kardashians or basketball stars bring excitement to the hoi polloi. Maybe Jay-Z or Beyonce are the pulse. An art star like Julian Schnabel is often seen at downtown spots. Although he carries impressive credentials, he doesn’t influence the thought process like Andy did. I thought Banksy might create a stir – until we got used to his face.

Andy charged up a room. Any gathering he attended was defined by his presence. He hobnobbed at Studio 54 with Bianca and Mick and Truman and Halston and Elizbeth Taylor, but then snuck south to Max’s Kansas City for Lou Reed, The Dolls, and his crew. The profound difference of celebrity back then and now mirrors the profound difference of VIP, then and now. Then, it was the wonderful, the creative, the style-influencers. Now, it’s all about the Benjamins.

Until a few weeks ago I would catch Taylor Meade’s act at the now-shuttered Bowery Poetry Club. Stories about Andy would drift into his act – one day disdaining Warhol, one day adoring him. Taylor is 87 now. He’s still brilliant but very frail. I don’t know if and when and where I will see his schtick again. I miss my weekly dose of his and Andy tales. Just before his death, Long Nguyen and I produced a fashion show for Kohshin Satoh at Tunnel. Andy, Miles Davis, and Devo’s Gerry Casales were the celebrity models. Andy was complaining about the place being cold, although it wasn’t. He looked ill, so we forgo him walking up and then down the steps from the dressing room he shared with Gerry. We put him on the ground floor with Miles. We weren’t being mean, but we couldn’t make him comfortable. He smiled and waved on the runway and no one in the audience suspected a thing. We knew he wasn’t himself and we found out later that he was sick and in pain. He died a few days later, on February 22, 1987.

Here’s Andy’s own recollection of the event at Tunnel, straight from his diary:

Tuesday, February 17, 1987:

…Then went over to the Tunnel and they gave us the best dressing room,but it was absolutely freezing. I had all my makeup with me. Miles Davis was there and he has absolute delicate fingers. They’re the same length as mine but half the width. I’d gone with Jean Michel last year to see his show at the Beacon, and I’d met him in the sixties at that store on Christopher Street, Hernando’s where we used to get leather pants. I reminded him that I’d met him there and he said he remembered. Miles is a clotheshorse. And we made a deal that we’d trade ten minutes of him playing music for me, for me doing his portrait. He gave me his address and a drawing-he draws while he gets his hair done. His hairdresser does the hair weaving, the extensions.

      They did a $5000 custom outfit for Miles with gold musical notes on it and everything, and they didn’t do a thing for me, they were so mean. They could’ve made me a gold palette or something. So I looked like the poor step child.and in the end they even(laughs) told me I walked to slow…

KAWS Takes New York

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Interested in street art and its overlap with the white cube, but sick to death of Banksy? You’re in luck: Pioneering artist KAWS has a doubleheader of New York shows on the horizon, both opening on November 2.

Uptown, there’s the exhibition “Pass The Blame” at Galerie Perrotin (909 Madison Ave.) In Chelsea, KAWS debuts two new large-scale sculptures at Mary Boone Gallery’s 541 West 24th Street location. (Uptown at the 745 5th Avenue outpost, the gallery is showing works from the 60s and 70s by the impossibly talented Peter Saul, an admitted KAWS fan himself.)

Want more? Now through January 5, KAWS’s paintings and sculptures infiltrate the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts, where they rub shoulders with far more conservative artworks from the institution’s permanent collection. (It’s almost enough to make us excited for a Philadelphia road trip.)

We’ve got some installation shots of the PAFA show below, including the fantastic, Gumbi-inspired sculpture above the entranceway.

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Write of Passage

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By Alexandra Phanor-Faury 

Since Banksy launched his month long residency on the streets of New York, his much lauded and sought after stenciled work has everyone talking about graffiti, from Mayor Bloomberg, who deems it a sign of decay and loss of control, to art students defending its legitimacy, and landlords cashing in on their Banksy enhanced properties. But according to graffiti historian Sacha Jenkins, all the buzz about the world’s most prominent graffiti artist is riddled with misconceptions. “Real graffiti has always been about letters, and that’s the fundamental difference between Banksy’s figurative art and the people in the graffiti underworld,” explains Jenkins. “We call ourselves writers; the media called it graffiti.”

Jenkins is currently curating “Write of Passage” at Red Bull Studios, an exhibit (showing until November 23) commemorating the history of this American art form that he hopes will educate the public on the roots of writing and attempt to rid it of the unsavory reputation that has long plagued it. The exhibit features more than 100 original works that include a vintage subway door, canvasses, and photographs. “Because of this current graffiti hysteria in New York, I think people are more curious than ever to learn more about what the art they are seeing on the street really means,” says Jenkins.

The editor, TV producer (VH1) and author, who has penned a number of books on graffiti and co-authored Eminem’s autobiography “The Way I Am” took some time out of from the exhibit to school us on the language of graffiti, the effect it had on his life, how freight trains are the new canvas, and why Chris Brown’s attempt at graffiti is a colossal fail.

How did “Write of Passage” come to fruition?
I’m an Editorial Director for Mass Appeal Magazine and we took this idea to Red Bull. I wanted to educate the public at large and hip them to the 40 year long history and the tradition that has been passed down to the folks around the world. It’s a great American art form, like rock & roll, jazz, the blues, and everything else people love about American culture. Graffiti is part of that pantheon and the world at large recognizes it. Red Bull is not an American company and they see the value and understand there is a culture here that speaks to people around the world. If you understand the root of the language of graffiti that was born in New York and Philadelphia, you can go anywhere in the world and you’ll find people of all races who participate in this writing culture and you can understand where they are coming from. This is because a percentage of what they might paint is an extension of what was pioneered in New York.

It’s fair to say that most people believe anything painted on a street wall is graffiti. “Write of Passage” clarifies that is not the case. Is Banksy more of a street artist?
[Graffiti] was called writing because they wrote their names. In the writing subculture, it’s all about language, words and focusing on that. In street art there might be dolphins, a rainbow or a smile, things that are familiar to folks in everyday life. Graffiti is a language most are not familiar with and are intimidated by. You are not really considered a writer unless you focus exclusively on letters and your desire is to create a letter form that makes you stand out. You can be a graffiti artist that incorporates faces and smiles in your writing. In the case of a Banksy, he has writing in his work but there isn’t much attention placed on the detail of creating writing or a word that is stylistically important. The words in his piece are just there to help communicate the bigger idea. The big idea in writing is the letters and words.

You don’t hesitate to call out people posing as writers. You penned a pretty hilarious and direct open-letter to Chris Brown addressing him adopting the graffiti artist moniker.
I’m not gonna say he has no artistic talent because obviously as a recording artist he does. As someone who works in the medium of spray paint, which I’ve seen him do, that is no easy task. He has what people in the culture call “can control”. He knows how to handle a can but just because he is painting a horse or donkey doesn’t make it graffiti. You have to work on your letters. With all the paint control in the world and all the money in the world, it will still take him years to understand the aesthetic of letter forms and know what’s been done before and what it will take to improve on that. I heard he is getting mentored by Slick from the West Coast who is certainly a respected guy who completely understands what it takes. I just don’t think you come off the street and say, “I’m Chris Brown, I’m painting a horse and I’m down.” That’s not how it works. You can paint a horse if you want but if your letters aren’t tight than you’re a guy who can paint a horse.

Will it ever be possible to shake the negative connotation of graffiti?
As long as it’s illegal to write on other people’s property, it’s always going to look like vandalism in the eyes of those people who don’t want it on their property. That’s a clear fact. Some graffiti writers will argue they were painting trains and making them beautiful and they did it to be creative, and now the MTA will have an ad wrap around an entire bus. Guess what? It’s capitalistic America and for the right price I’m sure the MTA will let you paint whatever you want. When you see a Banksy on your property illegally, people wanna dance on the ceiling. They understand they are gonna make money. If a graffiti artist wrote on your property, you might not understand what is being communicated and there is no money in it. I think that’s the fundamental difference between how New York is reacting to what Banksy is doing and the reaction a writer would get. If you’re dedicated enough to still be doing illegal graffiti, good luck, ‘cause if you get caught you’re looking at a serious felony. There are a lot of positive outlets for young people who have artistic talents and are fans of this art form. It can be communicated in a number of ways that don’t involve crime or what one might view as vandalism.

So are there still writers who bomb trains?
There are still people keeping it real, as they say. A lot of these people are older and whiter. Many think that graffiti is done exclusively by poor Black and Latino kids. A lot of the practitioners right now are white men in their thirties. There is burgeoning subculture of freight train graffiti that’s happening now too. You paint a train New Jersey and it ends up in Ohio.

How did you discover graffiti?
I moved to New York from Silver Spring, Maryland in 1977 and my mother told me to go outside and play. I had a football looking to make friends and everyone else had a magic marker. I learned that everyone had an alias and a graffiti name. Even my sister who is six years older than me had a graffiti name. She wasn’t a serious artist but she could write her nickname in a very stylized way. I stuck with it and then crack hit and most of the kids began to sell drugs. They would say, “Why are you still doing this? I’m gonna go make $1,000 a day. Graffiti is so passé.” That was in the ‘80s.

Graffiti kicked off your career in media…
I ended up publishing a graffiti ‘zine when I was 17. It led me to publish other magazines, write for establish publications, write books, and produce television shows. Graffiti got me started on my media career. It’s been a very positive happening in my life and I was never the best at it. I was able to take away the power that lies in saying I’m a writer at 12 and as an adult, I literally became a writer. There is something very narcissistic about it. It comes out of an environment where people have very low self-esteem and are looking to channel emotions and energy. It’s about saying I’m someone and you are gonna recognize me. That confidence helped a lot of people apply it to other mediums.  Many of these kids who started this are now pushing 50 or 60 and they were essentially doing an exercise in branding through perfecting their names. You can choose to look at all the negative attributes, but if you strip away all the positive attributes you can channel that energy in a smart way.

I interviewed Lady Pink [an iconic writer] years ago, and she was adamant about separating the art from hip-hop culture, whereas many other artists see it as one of the elements of hip-hop. What are your thoughts on it?
In 1980 there was a pretty definitive Village Voice article that kinda put graffiti, breakdance, DJing and rapping all in one article. At that point, in 1980, graffiti was happening for 10 years, breaking was around 10 years, DJ for seven and eight years, so these cultures already existed. What they had in common was this energy of young people. It just so happens many of those young people were renaissance and they were involve with all these elements at once. A lot of the writers who started in out in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s had nothing to do with hip-hop because hip-hop did not exist. One of the well-known early writers in New York was this Greek kid called Taki183. Maybe he liked some black music but hip-hop had nothing to do with his existence in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. The attitude that comes with being a boisterous writer and saying “look at me” is very in line with an average rapper. I am not gonna correct somebody who says it is part of hip-hop, because it is in a sense. But it also predates hip-hop.

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Want to See Banksy? WELL, YOU BETTER PAY UP!

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So New York has gone Banksy crazy. That’s great. Why? Because it allows tourists to take photos of his work that’s scattered on our city’s walls – and use them for awesome screen-savers and updated Facebook profile pics. It makes them happy. It makes Banksy happy. But most of all, it makes me happy. Because isn’t that what art is for?

But much like art you would see at a museum, Banksy’s art needs some professional curators. Without professional curators, we wouldn’t be sure that we are seeing is professional art instead of all the other street art crap that we see on a daily basis. That’s why I applaud a group of art savvy Brooklyn street entrepreneurs for charging $20 a pop to take photos of the latest Banksy art – a beaver – stenciled in their neighborhood.

“I’m trying to get some bread,” said the curator charging for a peek at Banksy. “This is my neighborhood. If you wanna take a picture, it’s gonna cost something.”

Why is this man so angry? Doesn’t realize that the influx of hipsters migrating to see the Banksy art are actually HELPING his neighborhood by spending money at his local bodega?

This wasn’t the only incident. According to the NY Post:

 

“Later in the day, a man who called himself a Banksy “fan” stopped by with a hammer and chisel and attempted to remove the art from the wall.”

 

Welcome to New York, Banksy!

Banksy has always been surrounded by controversy. Here are my 5 FAVORITE BANKSY CONTROVERSIES:

  • Earlier this year, two spray-paint Banksy murals vanished from a North London wall and later made an appearance at a Miami auction house. Who really owns the streets, huh? (Probably the city council.)
  • In 2004, Banksy gave the British pound a makeover by replacing the picture of the Queen on several £10 notes with an image of the late Princess Diana. The bills were distributed at a London carnival and some eager recipients tried to use them in local shops.
  • When Paris Hilton released her debut album in 2006, Banksy replaced real editions of the CD with 500 doctored copies – featuring the heiress either topless or with the head of her pet dog. Songs were remixed by Danger Mouse, featuring such titles as: “What Am I For?”
  • Banksy set his sights on Disneyland. Visitors who waited for the park’s Big Thunder Mountain ride were treated by a figure of a detainee from Guantanamo Bay; dressed in an orange prison suit and wearing a black hood over its head.
  • Banksy secretly hung his own altered versions of classic paintings at New York’s MoMA and Brooklyn Museum. Ironically, at the British Museum, Banksy’s cave painting of a hunter pushing a shopping cart was later added to the museum’s permanent collection.

Banksy + A Delivery Truck = Mobile Garden

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Banksy – you clever, clever bastard! The British street artist is in NYC being all clever and shit – like doing things and putting it up on walls and making us think in different ways and stuff like that. Oh Banksy! As part of his current ‘Better Out Than In’ exhibit, the B-man has taken an ordinary delivery truck and made it…..extraordinary. Ta-da!

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Okay, so he took coverted the back of a truck into a be beautiful, mobile garden complete with rainbow, waterfall and butterflies. The truck travels around the city and makes stops at different locations each night; kind of cool but also kind of annoying.

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The only way to check out the mobile Banksy exhibit is to randomly run into it or get tipped off via Twitter. The exhibit title: ‘All City.’ Tonight: East Village…

 

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Banksy Hotline: Call It NOW!

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Banksy has once again hit the walls of NYC – launching a new show entitled “Better Out Than In.” Catch it if you can: His first work  piece appeared yesterday at 11 Allen Street and has already been painted over. It involved a young boy standing on another boy’s back, reaching for a sign reading, “Graffiti is a crime.” Oh, ironic Banksy.

Even funnier; call the Banksy ironic graffiti artist  tour hotline: 1-800-656-4271

I promise, you wont be disappointed; a scholarly voice drone on about the meaning of each Banksy’s street work. Be sure to press the right prompt – where you will momentarily be put on hold. Ironic humor then ensues…

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What Banksy Would Paint, If Banksy Were Out of Ideas

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There are plenty of great parodies and riffs on the artist and the myth that is Bansky. There’s pop culture punster Hanksy, who uses the Bristol street artist’s style to create amusing portmanteaus like "Stark and Recreation," an image of Aziz Ansari in an Iron Man suit. There’s Milbansky, who invaded Washington, D.C. And, of course, Banksy parodied the success of and the sudden, flourishing fascination with street art in the "prankumentary" Exit Through the Gift Shop.

But as any artist skyrockets to fame and as any artist’s style and ethos becomes recognizable, it becomes pretty easy to parody, if not totally lampshade. Enter Lazy Banksy, a pretty brilliant new blog taking Banksy’s formula and political message and just making them really, really not subtle at all. A map of America with the Statue of Liberty declaring "I’m With Stupid," the Kennedy assassination as an iPhone photo and other delightfully half-assed socially-conscious messages abound. 

Sale Of Banksy’s ‘Slave Labor’ Abruptly Halted

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The sale of a Banksy mural called Slave Labor, which was removed from a London wall, got abruptly cancelled yesterday before it was to be put up for auction in Miami.

Slave Labor (also called Bunting Boy) depicts a little boy sewing together Union Jack flags; it’s said to be a statement on child labor and British exploitation of the disadvantaged and appeared last May in time for the Queen’s Jubilee. At some point, Slave Labor was removed from the wall of the building in Haringey where Banksy created it. Although it was not proven, there was some suspicion that the building’s owners removed it themselves, especially once locals learned it would be put up for auction by Fine Arts Auction Miami for $500,000 to $700,000. 

But according to the UK’s Guardian, the sale was "dramatically halted" yesterday. Both pieces of work by Banksy in the auction — Slave Labor and another piece removed from a UK wall called Wet Dog — were withdrawn. The auction has refused to comment on the specifics of what happened.

Locals from Haringey have asked that Slave Labor not be sold and be returned to its original location. Fine Arts Auction Miami has said it is not their purview to return works, only to sell ones that owners want to be sold. 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.