The value of street art: on the commodity status of artworks removed from the street

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As prices for so-called urban art (a term often used to describe the studio work of artists associated with the street art world) have risen over the last decade, the removal of and trading in actual street artworks has become increasingly widespread. This paper discusses what happens to ephemeral, often site specific, artworks when they are taken from the street and put on the art market.

Many street artists, street art enthusiasts and art collectors consider the removal of and trading in street artworks to be problematic, and they – along with some auction houses and galleries – dispute both the artistic and monetary value of such objects. However, my research shows that attitudes towards the removal and sale of street artworks vary depending on the wishes of the relevant artist. Instead of deeming an artwork authentic – and attributing to it a market value – on the basis that it was originally created by a certain artist, the removed street artwork’s status is also contingent on the recognition by the artist – or the artist’s representative – of it as an artwork in its current form.

Drawing on cases of removed street artworks that have gone to auction or sold privately in the last decade, I demonstrate the removed artworks’ uncertain commodity status. I also argue that while there currently is a widespread discourse labelling removed street artworks as “stolen” (from the public) and “worthless”, precedents such as preserved examples of Keith Harring’s chalk drawings from the New York subway indicate that this commodity status may change over time.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Konstvetenskap


  • gatukonst
StatusPublished - 2014
Peer review utfördNej
EvenemangAssociation Of Art Historians Summer Symposium 2014 - University of Bristol, Bristol, Storbritannien
Varaktighet: 2014 jun 262014 jun 27


KonferensAssociation Of Art Historians Summer Symposium 2014

Related projects

Peter Bengtsen


Projekt: Avhandling

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