Artist create art. Art is meant to provoke and inspire. So it can be said that art has created, provoked, and inspired a market of speculation far beyond what most people understand.
Artists like Richard Hambleton, Nicolas Party, Robert Gober, Jonas Wood, etc… are all talented without a doubt in their style and vision, but are they worth millions? Are they worth as much as professional CEO’s, sports athletes, inventors, medical doctors and researchers, etc..?
Here we have one artist that has been deemed the “Godfather of Street Art” and his works have been hailed as insightful and provocative. His street art in allies and back ways has set the stage for many critics both positive and negative. His works on canvas have been seen in museums around the western world. But is he worth the sale of one painting for $30 and another for $553k?
Is his work worth the hype and speculation that it will be deemed as “ground-breaking”, “trend setting”, “socially impacting”… that tens of thousands of dollars are traded with his works?
Here you can find some 200,000 search results on his art’s worth and the first page is nothing art galleries, art studios, art middlemen… that are all eager to tell you about him and to invest.
We consider that he is like so many others, are enhancements of the art world to create a wonderful story that they love to build upon each year. Richard Hambleton’s craft and story are real and hard, but does the art world have the right to play it up each day and make it their own?
In Richard Hambleton’s case he is deemed the godfather of street art where “tagging” and “graffiti” have been part of mankind and gathered society since the dawn of time. Just visit Pompeii and you will see what we mean. So this status of “god like” or “blessed one on earth” may not his alone to share.
Here in one gallery in Soho, London he is toted as a prime investment for their portfolio pieces that attract investors from across the world.
He is part of their art investment package and meant to show the true credibility of the organization.
This technique of having a few pieces, usually quite minor to any of the body of work created by the original artist, to tote and brand as “special” or “prosperous” is used by many art galleries to attract investors.
We do not say this is the case with the galley in question, but we do ask the question of how art from a seemingly struggling and conflicting artist that is evicted and goes to prison at one time and is clearly not benefiting from the sale of his work while living, has his life’s gift sold for millions? Where are the millions for Richard? Where is the legacy of his impact beyond the speculation of the market of his impact? What real impact did he have? We know that he did make a difference in New York crime scene and forgotten neighborhoods in different cities, but where is the impact of the millions that have been spent for pieces of white canvas and black paint sitting on a wall somewhere?
Is this what the artist intend? Did he intent to be a piece in the art world of money and hype? Or did he have a bigger calling and truly want to make a difference?
We believe it is the latter and not the scandalous speculation of his pieces. But this is art, a reflection of the greed we put into it and not the inspiration to change we should get out of it.
Rest in piece Richard and we hope that your work inspires us simply be better, not just richer.