Out all the urban art works that aim to successfully transmit important messages, the stencil art of Nick Walker is among the most sophisticated ones. Although his methods can be defined as provocative and ironic, his style is clear, simple and slightly delicate, to use an attribute that may sound odd, when referring to the old-school British graffiti art scene. More than occasionally, his art was compared to the art of Banksy, which is not that big of a surprise given the fact that they both come from Bristol, are both influenced by the same stream and like to upset the consumerist society, common dogmas and close-mindedness. But even though their techniques are alike, Nick Walker somehow managed to gain just a bit more refined publicity.
Nick has come a long way, from the ground-breaking Bristol graffiti scene practitioner to the iconic role-model he is now, whose work is inspirational to many young artists, and sold at auctions for thousands of dollars. As expected, one of his most iconic and famous characters is featured on half of his most expensive works. We’re talking, of course, about Vandal, the rebellious gentleman considered to be his illustrated alter-ego. Here is a brief description of ten Nick Walker's most highly evaluated works.
Three characters are commonly related to Nick Walker's artwork. The first one is his illustrated doppelganger Vandal, the second one is probably Mona Lisa, because of his very famous, humorous and provocative Moona Lisa stencil, and the third one is the mysterious girl that appears in his Knickers cycle of artworks. Nick Walker's fans and art collectors seem to be overwhelmed with this piece, which could be due to the tasteful, sophisticated interpretation of an erotic moment. With a slight reference to Andy Warhol's renowned portraits, Walker made four frames in which only the color of the girl's underwear changes.
Hammer price for this artwork was $15,600 at Bonhams, London. If you would like to gain more insight, find the relevant information on the following link.
This may be one of Nick Walker’s most popular pieces, at least according to the internet, however not the most expensive one, although its ranking is high. You have probably seen Vandal, somewhere, somehow, even if you haven't previously heard about his famous creator, and even if you don't know much about street art. His appearance may be familiar to you from the streets of the city you live in, from the internet, which is full of pictures of Vandal in various different contexts, or maybe even from a video by the Black Eyed Peas. In any case, this is one of his many appearances in Walker's oeuvre.
V is for Vandal was sold for $15,600 at first, at Bonhams London in 2008, but 4 years later at Bonhams Los Angeles its hammer price dropped down to $10,000. To see the trend line and more details, click here.
As the artist said himself, the combination of stencils and freehand work is what allows him to contrast "almost photographic imagery" with rawness. This bright, colorful piece is a good example of what Nick was trying to say in that statement. Although stencils are by nature generic and repetitive to some extent, they are never the same in Nick Walker's murals and paintings. Stamps that come out of Walker's patterns perfectly relate to the airbrushed, painted surroundings he makes. This interrelation between the sharp contours and the colorful haze is also manifested through deliberately chosen details that are exclusively important in large-scale paintings, like this one.
Although the highest estimated price was $20,400, Time Travel was sold for $16,800, at Digard Paris. If you would like to know the details, click on the following link.
The diptych illustrates a series of two events that obviously make Vandal very happy, or at least he looks so on his bike. Vandal Diptych looks like it directly reflects Walker's pure emotions. "I try to add an element of humor or irony to some paintings to add a little light relief to the walls. Painting is a form of escapism for me and if my work allows the spectator to do the same thing, then I’ve achieved more than I set out to do".
The diptych was sold for $17,600, at Artcurial (Briest, Poulain, F. Tajan) Paris, exceeding its estimated price of about $16,200. Find out more about the auction here.
And here is another work you must have seen before. This is a canvas in which the artist once again refers to himself, and plays the role of the imaginary silent observer. The piece is equally simple and catchy, and it represents Vandal performing the most basic action you can think of when imagining graffiti artists doing what they usually do. The street, the pavement and the wall look almost realistic, and the well-known silhouette of Vandal belongs to slightly different aesthetics. The opportunity to mix different styles is something Nick Walker refers to as the most interesting part of the technique he uses. This is the most expensive work to display Nick's character Vandal, and probably one of the most famous urban art pieces today.
This piece was sold for $17,800 at Cornette De Saint Cyr Paris in 2012. Read more about the auction here.
The sold piece is, as its title says, a study for another artwork - Sweet Revenge, which can be seen on Walker's website. He uses pink color quite often, but usually the soft, and not the assertive tone. Sweet Revenge is a piece of his Morning After series of artworks, in which he interprets Vandal (himself) enjoying his work after coloring the cities that he visits. Vandal's first appearance was in one of these paintings. The paintings also include the urban surrounding, and they display skylines of many big cities, such as Paris, New York, Moscow, London, Sidney, Santa Monica, and his hometown Bristol.
Its highest estimated price was only $6,000, but surprisingly the piece was sold for $19,000 at Bonham's New York in 2008. Read more about the auction here.
Nikers is one of the editions of the famous (and apparently very well received) Knickers. Walker used the same stencil pattern a few times in order to re-interpret this seductive piece. Using different background surface and different spray paint each time, he managed to sell a few editions of the Knickers saga, as you have probably noticed. Changing the frame, the hue and the amount of color once again, Walker created a different effect, depicting the same girl.
This version is a black and white stencil, and its hammer price was $21,700, sold at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions London. Find out more about it here.
To rephrase what Nick once said himself, stencils are both practical and amazing because they allow you to recreate the image on any surface, and to produce new versions with different qualities based on the same shape. In this version of the Knickers, called White Panties, the title adequately describes the highlight of the piece. With a smooth combination of black and yellow, placed on a neutral canvas, white panties are basically the first thing you notice. Walker’s admirers often define this piece as charming, electric, as if it possesses some features that subconsciously push the viewer’s imagination.
This piece was sold for $30,000 at Bonhams, New York in 2008. Read all about the auction here.
If you're familiar with Nick Walker's works, you probably recognize the famous Apish Angel on this print, where the face of a gorilla is in front of what seems to be a brain, and a pair of wings is set behind a helmet. In this piece Walker paid special attention to detail. The Sergeant has a multitude of layers in front of and around his head. Apart from the beautifully blended colors and an overlap of thought-provoking motives, Walker even paid attention to the surrounding that reflects in the helmet.
The highest estimated price was around $15,000, but the piece managed to reach the hammer price of $37,500 at Bonhams, New York in 2008. Read all bout it here.
The true-color version of the famous stencil, the original one entitled Knickers, hits the top of our list. The high-contrast work is made with spray paint on board, and it is the only one to feature realistic color hues that illustrate the girl in a pop-art manner. This edition of the sequence may actually be the most enchanting one, and its hammer price goes hand in hand with that presumption. It is more close-up and framed differently, and therefore more is left to imagination. For some reason, images of this particular print are very hard to find, which illustrates its exclusiveness.
This is Nick Walker's most expensive piece, and it was sold for $37,600 at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions London. More information about the auction can be found here.