On June 6, 2007, Artcurial Briest-Poulain-Le Fur-F. Tajan took an innovative step forward, organizing an auction of major works of Graffiti Art.
The operation was a major success. Since the Paris auction, major names from the Graffiti Art world have positioned themselves on the international market, with rising estimations and world records set by the American Graffiti kings JonOne (Balle de Match, 1993, sold €24,800 or $36,436) and Futura 2000 (Bar Code, 1983, sold €23,500 or $34,526).
On February 18, 2008, the leading French auctioneering house will once again demonstrate its staunch commitment to this market with an even more ambitious program.
On the front line: historic pieces of American graffiti art dating from the beginning of the 1980s. Graffiti art kings Dondi White, Blade, Seen, Rammellzee, Quik, A-One, and Futura 2000 will lead the way with major works . Other kings in the field – JonOne, Koor, Crash, Daze, Toxic, Noc 167, and Sonic – will also make an appearance.
The French Graffiti scene has also risen to meet the challenge, from the most famous names to artists just beginning to produce works on canvas. Along with works by Shuck one, Alex/Mac and Tieri, Darco, RCF1, Hondo, Nasty, JayOne, Ash, and others from the very young Graffiti scene with Tanc, Teurk, Baboo, Sun7, and G, all working in the Belleville La Forge studios with Jean Faucheur, other as yet unknown works by Keag, Sore, and Babs, known for their commitment to working within the urban environment, will also be presented.
In ahomage to writers, the new sale will bear witness to the teeming and eclectic Urban Art scene with, in particular, stencil works by Jef Aérosol, Blek le Rat, Némo, and Miss Tic, to name just a few.
Overall, over sixty pieces will set out to conquer new territory, for a total estimation of €420,000 to €550,000.
ON THE FRONT LINE: HISTORICAL PIECES OF AMERICAN GRAFFITI ART
The early 1980’s: a significant step in the history of Graffiti Art.
After their initial onslaught on the streets and subways of New York during the 1970’s, graffiti pioneers began to experiment with canvas in response to increasingly severe repression. Their mature work took the form of remarkable pieces, the first of their kind to escape from the uncertainties of the urban décor. New York galleries, such as the Fashion Moda Gallery and the Fun Gallery, were quick to open their doors to these artists by 1981. Later the Sidney Janis Gallery developed the concept of “post-graffiti” art in 1983.
In Europe, American graffiti artists achieved special recognition in Holland. In 1983, an ambitious exhibition entitled “New York Graffiti” was organized at the Boymans-von Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, and later at the Groninger Museum in Griningue. Among the pioneering galleries was the Yaki Kornblit gallery which organized solo shows of major American names in Amsterdam.
Steven Ogburn, alias Blade, born in 1958, was active as early as 1973 and founded the TC 5 crew that reigned over the lines 2 and 5 of the New York subway. This adept of up-to-down will have a distinguished presence with Beyond the wall, 1984, spray can and marker on canvas (181x341cm) estimated at €30-40,000. Far from limiting himself to the “Wild Style”, Blade is remarkable for constant innovation in new forms that renew lettering styles and play games with perspective. The work was purchased directly from the Yaki Cornblitt Gallery during the exhibition “Coming from the Subway: New York Graffiti Art” held from October 4, 1992 to January 10, 1993.
Another artist who got his start in the New York subway in 1973, Richard Mirando alias Seen, born in 1961, soon achieved recognition as an influential graffiti artist. The “Godfather of Graffiti”’s talent can be fully appreciated in Splash Seen, 1984 (est. €25-30,000), a magisterial work with four sections (4x(176x103cm)) in spray can and marker, also acquired by the Yaki Cornblitt Gallery in Amsterdam. In a new Parisian homage to the artist last September, an exhibit was organized at the Chappe Gallery for the first time in the capital as well as a first participation in an auction in Europe.
Dondi White (1961-1998), one of the most gifted and highly respected graffiti artists of his generation, was omnipresent in New York during the 1970’s. He will be represented by Mathematics (est. €20-25,000), a significant work in spray can on canvas (176x260cm) dating from 1984-1985. Presented at the Groninger Museum in Groningue during the exhibition “New York Graffiti Art: Coming from the Subway”, the piece was purchased directly from the artist and is also the first Dondi White offered for auction in Europe.
The politically charged work of Linwood A. Felton alias Quik, an artist born in 1958, will be introduced with Love will tear us apart, 1984 (est. €20-30,000), spray can on canvas (175x238cm) purchased directly from the artist.
Famous for his refusal of the “writer” label and his assertive stance as an artist in the full sense of the word during the early 1980’s, Rammellzee, an atypical creator born in 1960, saw letters as weapons in a war. His original approach is fully illustrated by Ransom note future futurism crimee take the plunge, 1984, mixed media on panel (80x105cm) estimated at €10-15,000. Purchased by the Yaki Cornblitt Gallery in Amsterdam, the piece was part of Rammellzee’s solo show at the Gemmente Museum in Helmond from November 15 to January 24, 1987, and later exhibited at the Groninger Museum in Groningue from February 7 to March 22, 1987.
One of the major figures of the American old school, Anthony Clark, alias A-One (1964 – 2001), will be represented by a work from 1983, Faces Scribbled on My desk (est. €15-20,000), spray can on canvas (175x205cm), purchased directly from the artist.
In addition another noteworthy piece will be presented – a work dated 1983 by Lenny Mc Gurr, alias Futura 2000, friend of Basquiat and one of the founding fathers who played a crucial role in the development of Graffiti Art. From a private collection in Belgium, the work, entitled Mutual of Omaha, spray can on canvas(150x 230cm), will be started at €20-25,000.
The chapter devoted to the kings of American graffiti will be completed by works by JonOne, Crash, Noc 167, Koor, Daze, Toxic, and Sonic, all works from private collections.
Born in Harlem where he began working in 1980 at the age of 17, living in Paris since 1987, John Andrew Perello, alias JonOne, who reached a world record with the highest bid ever recorded in France for a piece of Graffiti art on June 6, 2007 at Artcurial Briest-Poulain-Le Fur-F. Tajan, will have a place of honor with works executed from 1990 to 2007, all significant pieces from an artist in constant renewal of his creative approach.
First, two pieces from the early 1990’s in acrylic and spray can on canvas, developing the highly colored, lively, richly detailed “all-over” technique: Sister to the Brother, 1990 (133x223 cm), estimated at €15-20,000, and Grand Master Flash, 1991 (est. €10-12,000) in a more modest format (120.50x196cm), both reminding us of the close connection between Rap and Graffiti Art. Da Vaporst (est. €8,000-12,000) is also an important piece that reveals new developments in lettering, the sign, and color.
THE FRENCH GRAFFITI SCENE IN ALL ITS GLORY
By the late 1980’s, graffiti art, originating in the United States, had invaded the streets of European cities everywhere. In 1987, Henry Chalfant and James Prigoff’s book, “Spray can Art”, describes how the medium evolved in less than a decade in London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Paris. The present survey of what’s in the air in the French capital exemplifies the strength of a Graffiti Art scene already well-established with a broad range of well-known artists of talent all capable of carrying the flame of the American kings while still affirming their own specific identity.
Among the most established graffiti artists of the Parisian scene, Shuck one, will be present with a piece dated 2001, Urbanes Scientifics, acrylic and spray can on canvas (191x199cm) estimated at €9,000-11,000, as well as Alex/Mac et Tieri with a four-handed piece in acrylic and spray can in homage to Basquiat (est. €6,000-8,000), and Darco with Rawcrue, 2007, spray can on canvas (100x105cm) estimated at €2,000-3,000.
Also of note are works by RCF1, Ice cream, 2004, felt-tip marker on paper (80x120.50cm) starting at €1,800-2,200, and works by Hondo, Nasty, and JayOne.
The youngest artists of the Parisian Graffiti art scene working in the La Forge studios in Belleville with Jean Faucheur, co-founder during the 1980’s with the Frères Ripoulin, will be represented by Tanc, Teurk, Baboo, G, and Sun7, present with 70 millions de morts en temps de paix, 2007, acrylic and mixed media on canvas (146x114cm) annotated “Back from Shangaï” on the back and estimated at €2,000-2,500
The auction will also be an opportunity to discover artists from the Parisian Graffiti art scene – Sore, Babs, and Keag – who, thus far, had restricted their activities to the urban environment but for the first time have been willing to paint on canvas.
STENCIL ARTISTS MEET URBAN ART
In parallel to the spray can and the marker, the Urban Art scene has also developed with other techniques. Stenciling is certainly one of the most common techniques used by Graffiti artists in today’s urban environment. Artists such as Ernest Pignon-Ernest began using stencils in the 1960’s, but the technique did not really come into its own until the end of the 1970’s in Sao Paulo and New York, and later in Paris in 1981. Following the boom in the 1980’s, Paris has now become a major center for the stencil graffiti scene.
The February 18 auction will include work by stencil artists Blek le Rat, Jef Aérosol, Némo, Mosko and associates, Miss Tic, and Marie Rouffet.
Among the highlights of this section: The Fawn, 1993 (est. €8,000-12,000), stencil and pastel on paper glued onto canvas (156x 104cm) by Blek le Rat – an artist who gained critical acclaim during his solo show at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York and who inspired Bansky’s famous rat – Sans titre, 2004 (est. €4,500-5,000), a very rare stencil, spray can and acrylic on an enameled plate by Némo – an emblematic figure who stands out among the Belleville crowd– and Zim’s Cig… (Bob Dylan), 2007 (est. €2,000-2,500), stencil, spray can and acrylic on canvas (80x80cm) by Jef Aerosol.