From Vandalism to Artwork Sold for Millions
Picture a street from half a century ago. The first things that come to mind are probably cobbled roads, black lampposts, telephone booths, and rows of quaint cafes. However, murals and wall paintings wouldn't be something we would think of right away when imagining this idyllic scene—but graffiti and street art had already started to emerge in the 1960s. At that time, this form of art was largely considered as vandalism. If we think about how works by either Basquiat or Banksy are sold at auctions for millions of dollars today, we can see how far the meaning, significance and role of street art has come in the art market.
In the 1980s street art gained more recognition, exhibitions were organized, and its reputation changed from vandalism to an acclaimed form of art.
Basquiat was born in Brooklyn to Haitian and Puerto Rican parents in 1960, Not too long after, he would leave home as a teenager to take over Lower Manhattan. He quickly gained notoriety for his graffiti art, which often featured ambiguous messages like "Playing Art with Daddy's Money" and "9 to 5 Clone." In 1980, after a group of artists from the punk and graffiti underground held the "Times Square Show," Basquiat's paintings began to attract attention from the art world. He soon broadened his scale and scope of artworks as he moved from the street to the gallery, and his creations from walls to linen canvases.
His artistic style was better suited to bright colours and boldness in both style and sizing, therefore changing from murals to relatively smaller surfaces Basquiat remained determined to larger canvases, such as the painting “La Hara”. This painting is 120 centimetres wide and has a height of 180 centimetres.
La Hara was sold at an auction in 2017 for $35 million, becoming one of his highest-value artworks.
Basquiat has inspired artists around the world for over half a century with his striking and rebellious style.
Jason Balducci is a contemporary figurative painter who lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Originally from Italy, his colourful paintings and distinctive personal style emanates energy and spontaneity and expresses the vibrant spirit and atmosphere of the expressionist movement. Portraits by Balducci immediately attract attention with their charisma, dynamism and wit. Active colours, uneven layers, fragmental bodies, sketchy lines and unconventional mixture of techniques and materials are the painter’s typical expressive means. No wonder that Basquiat, along with Willem de Kooning and Warhol are named among his sources of inspiration.
From small stairs in narrow streets to half a mile-long murals, street art goes a long way in affecting our everyday lives, telling us stories and sending us messages.
Growing up we might have all seen stairs in our school, kindergarten, or even in public spaces, that were painted or had inspirational quotes on them. The design on the stairs is not to be confused with graffiti but it is still street art. This is a simple example of how street art can change the atmosphere and feel of an everyday scenario. These small messages and affirmations could make our days better. Street art can be used to beautify a city, to make a political statement, or simply to express oneself. It is a form of public art that anyone can enjoy, regardless of whether or not they understand the message it is trying to communicate. Artists like Basquiat, Banksy and Warhol all aimed to have that kind of an effect on passer-by’s, to inspire, to go against injustice in the system and to fight for what they believe is right.