Stealing from the public: on the removal of street art from the street

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This paper discusses the removal, sale and collection of street artworks. These practices have become increasingly widespread as prices for commercial urban art have risen. While many members of the street art world consider the taking of and trading in street artworks to be taboo, my research shows that attitudes vary depending on the wishes of the relevant artists and the motives of the people removing the artworks.

It is common to see members of the street art world referring to artworks that have been removed from the street as stolen. Sometimes this means laws have been broken to obtain/sell the artwork. However, many members of the street art world consider it inappropriate to remove and sell street artwork, irrespective of the legalities. My research shows a strong discourse within the street art world condemning the removal of street artworks, less on a legal basis than on a moral one.

Many street art world members feel that street artworks belong to the public, not individuals. Even legally-removed street artworks can therefore be perceived of as stolen from the public. Despite this discourse being very strong, my research shows that it is not entirely unopposed. There is also an argument for the long-term benefits of the removal and preservation of some street artworks. However, this argument hinges on a proportion of removed street artworks becoming accessible to the public, for example in museum collections. So far, artworks taken from the street have tended to go into the stock of galleries or disappear into private collections, making the preservation argument seem somewhat unpersuasive.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Konstvetenskap


  • gatukonst
StatusPublished - 2014
Peer review utfördNej
EvenemangLisbon Street Art & Urban Creativity International Conference 2014 - Lisbon, Portugal
Varaktighet: 2014 jul 32014 jul 5


KonferensLisbon Street Art & Urban Creativity International Conference 2014