Auction Analysis: Artnet "Urban Jungle"

June 10, 2014

Currently at Artnet Auctions you can bid a wide range of great artworks by masters of contemporary urban art. Up for sale are the pieces of 42 famous artists, some of whom are icons of the genre like Basquiat, while others do not lack fame either. We bring you a selection of artists whose works you can bid for a very short time because the auction ends in a few days. Take a look before they go under the hammer.


Banksy has two screen-prints on auction, Choose Your Weapon from 2010 and an early work Golf Sale from 2003. Choose Your Weapon is a screen-print from the special "Que Jumper's edition" of 58, in which Banksy pays homage to Keith Haring. The seemingly flat and simplistic style of Keith Haring contrasts with Banksy's stencil work, which is rich with detail and depth. The work is estimated at US$16,000–20,000. Golf Sale is less expensive, estimated to be worth between 5,000 and 7,000 dollars, but it makes sense given that it comes from the edition, which counts 750 prints. The work references the iconic image of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protester.


Sickboy left a remarkable impact on the graffiti scene by inventing an entirely new way of tagging. Instead of lettering he used a pictorial logo, an emblem, for his tag. The logo in question is a red and yellow emblem named “The Temple” and there is a wonderful example of it right now at Artnet Auctions. It is a painting, acrylic on canvas, depicting Sickboy’s famous tag, dating from 2009. It is estimated at US$4,000–6,000. You've got three days to become the proud owner of this vivid work. There is another Sickboy’s work on auction titled Forgive and Forget, more precisely two mixed media paintings on steel sheets from 2011. For them, be prepared to pay between 7,000 and 9000 US dollars.  


Among KAWS’ works on sale, there are three marker drawings from 2011, like KAWSBOB - remixed Spongebob in KAWS’ trademark style with double X eyes - and 3 prints. We draw your attention to one of his early works Untitled (US) from 1996. KAWS began his career in the early 1990's manipulating billboards, phone booths and bus stops with his distinct x out eyes and cross bone caricatures. Untitled (US) is an early example of KAWS documenting his work on New York City's Astor Place. It is estimated to be worth US$10,000–15,000.


Graffiti artist Futura has two “Pointman” screenprints up for sale. Both prints display Futura’s unique artistic style and his iconic figure. These pieces make use of the bold shapes and bright colors that are typical of graffiti art, but also exemplify the distinctly complex and conceptual visual language that Futura has developed. But we noticed something far more interesting, still including his Pointman, though. Untitled (Beauty and Technology) is a collage on yellow noted paper from 1996, which debuted at the artist’s 1996 solo show at Livestock Gallery, New York. Various magazine cutouts interplay with two hand drawn variations of Futura’s famous character. This example of Futura’s Pointman character is a rare, early variation of what would become his iconic signature figure and the UNKLE band logo. The work is estimated between 3,000 and 5000 US dollars.


Nick Walker is a graffiti artist and printmaker best known for his use of stencils and sophisticated, ironic imagery. Many of Walker’s works feature political messages. He has three screenprints on sale. All three are from his “The Morning After” series that features major world cities. At Artnet Auctions are on offer three cities: Hong Kong, Paris and Santa Monica (LA). The Morning After (Paris), for example, comes from the rare gold edition of 10, completed with hand-finishing in metallic gold ink. Here, a figure carrying two buckets of gold paint is shown among the rooftops, all around him messy spills and applications of gold to the otherwise monotone city. It’s worth between 3000 and 5000 US dollars.


The Other Side by Os Gêmeos is their only lithograph released to date, and comes from an edition of just 99. This work was printed by 99 Prints, one of Paris’ oldest print shops, using the same press that modern masters Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and Miró used. Many of Os Gêmeos’ murals and paintings are centered on characters that show us a fantasy world called “Tritez.” Their characters are instantly recognizable. In this work, we see one of their classic, yellow-skinned characters coming through a concrete wall. The Brazilian twins use yellow palette a lot; when the brothers started doing graffiti around the city, it was a color easy to see from far away, and these yellow works were easily recognizable as Os Gêmeos’ pieces. The Other Side is estimated to be worth US$8,000–12,000.


Brooklyn based BAST has been gaining in popularity with the urban art collecting community for quite some time. Like Banksy, BAST is one of the few street artists left to truly maintain his anonymity. He has two works on auction. The Revolution Mickey screen-print is part of smaller edition of just 20, with hand finished elements done by the artist. It is in excellent condition, numbered 16/20, and estimated at US$2,000–3,000. In his Screw Perdue piece, BAST plays with text and imagery in a witty Pop art composition. The work displays BAST's iconic style of collaged-based art with his distinctive urban flair. For this piece you should give up between 4000 and 6000 US dollars.


Ben Eine is most famous for his work Alphabet Street, but gained international fame when one of his works was presented to President Obama as a gift. He specializes in creating work on store-fronts that consist of over-sized letters and bright colors. There are several works depicting Eine’s vibrant alphabet letters at Artnet Auctions. One of them is his relatively recent work titled Sweet Circus Love, Ten Sixty Six and estimated at US$5,000–7,000.

SWOON - Thalassa 38

Swoon’s signature works include life-size human forms that she creates from recycled newsprint paper. Two of her works on auction include Zahra 16 from 2010 and Thalassa 38 from 2012. Thalassa 38 is one of 38 unique editions of the Thalassa image, released by Paper Monster in New York in 2012. Presented on sheetrock, this hand-painted screenprint is exemplary of Swoon's elegant images that have caught the eye of the world. This beautiful work is estimated to be worth between 4000 and 6000 US dollars.


And finally, one of New York City's most famed graffiti artists, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). Executed in black and red crayon, his dynamic drawing from 1988 is now up for sale. This drawing was exhibited at Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris in the last year of the artist’s life. It is an excellent example of Basquiat’s mature style, featuring post office labels from New York. A red stamp on the right-hand side of the paper reads “Earth Domestic”, placing the artist in the larger social and art historical context. The work justifiably costs between 60,000 and 80,000 US dollars.

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