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Like landscape paintings that focus more on color than detail, original works of street art are usually only seen by artists themselves and those with special vision, and very rarely seen by anyone outside the artistic world. As such, these works are easily the most exclusive form of art available, and are thus exceptionally expensive. So expensive, in fact, that there is still no accurate way to know the exact cost of an original piece of street art.
That's because a street art work is no ordinary painting. It is a portrait of that artist as a child, as a teenager, as an adult, and as he moves from place to place. It is a record of the flow of his life, his travels and experiences, and all that he has seen, done, and learned on the way. A street art piece may also be a portrait of a community as seen by the artist, with hints and clues left by past experience. It may express an attitude, point of view, or sense of place, while at the same time subtly setting it apart from all other street art pieces.
And finally, a street art piece can be about the artist as an individual, as a public figure, a friend, a confidant, or even a role model. That's why it's considered an important work. There is an inner life to a street art piece, and it has meaning beyond that of the piece's value.
But to know whether the price you are offered is fair, it's important to consider what the art would fetch in a world where prices don't change from day to day. Since 2001, I have been keeping a list of the works of street art that I have seen since the first one I took seriously, and as a result I have a pretty good idea of the kinds of prices I am talking about.For these works, I am listing the prices that were quoted to me.
If you want to see what other people are asking for, and how much they are offering, you can visit the Connoisseur List for sale in the USA. This page lists the prices and offers from various dealers and private owners of street art in the USA. Here's a selection of what you will find there.
From Tom Hall and Damon Jones
Saving Our Streets, 2000, oil on canvas
Looking down University Avenue, UT Austin
32 x 24", also known as 'Forest'
A fraction of a large version of this piece, it's an incredible composition of bright colors in the style of a Claude Monet painting. The contrast between the concrete and the organic greens and yellows is very strong, and it's easy to see why it has become such a powerful representation of a beautiful moment in a dark time.
Florence Outward, 2002, oil on canvas
On the hills above Florence, Italian edition of The Banksy Checkpoint
18 x 24", also known as 'Full House'
One of the strongest, and most beautiful, portraits in the series, this painting looks to me as if it might be a travelogue or journal entry written by a traveler on his or her first visit to Florence. The pop of red in the right foreground is a powerful contrast to the auburn of the old buildings and the browns and beiges of the rest of the piece.
Big Boss Man, 1999, chalk on chalkboard
Pulled off his pedestal, toilet graffiti from Sydney
30 x 20", also known as 'Toilet'
An exceptionally powerful and exciting piece by a graffiti legend. The strip of graffiti on the old building shows a very focused anger, but the black humor adds a smile to the whole thing. I hope you agree.
Ghetto Confidential, 2002, chalk on chalkboard
COP COP MOVE, WTF, 2002, chalk on chalkboard
BANK OF AMERICA, (500 series), 1998, chalk on chalkboard
BANK OF AMERICA
5' x 3', also known as 'Bank of America'
Here is a strong example of the kind of contrast between the old and the new that is so popular in street art today. While the capital letters are playful, they still express anger, and there is a real feeling of menace about the piece.
Queensland Board of School Matrons, 2000, chalk on chalkboard
GO GO EM, 2001, chalk on chalkboard
To the public toilets
SUBWAY, 2002, chalk on chalkboard
GO GO EM, 2002, chalk on chalkboard
GOOGLE, 2002, chalk on chalkboard
It's not only the lines, the word GOOGLE also seems to take up a good bit of space on this nice clean piece of chalkboard.
He saw it for the first time in the 1970s when he was six. Here's the picture he drew of it later in life:
...And in the end, what do we have? A wild landscape that takes up a good part of the page. There are three very different areas, each with different shades of blue, but when viewed as a whole, it represents the spirit of California.
I really think that this is a very important example of street art, because in this kind of work, it is very important to maintain the interest of the viewer as long as possible. This is one of the things that separates good street art from street photography. When