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August 2, 2012updated Dec 20, 2023

Bonhams Los Angeles Blends Street Art Grit and Sunset Boulevard Glamour

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Los Angeles, California—reported by Coleman Bentley for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine

In the fine-art world the definition of canvas has changed. No longer confined to the easel, contemporary street-artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey have announced themselves to the art-buying public with controversial mediums, topical subject matter, and, of course, rising auction prices. Enter international auction house Bonhams and its inaugural U.S.-based Urban art auction, to be held in Los Angeles on October 29th.

Following on the heels of the City of Angels’ successful “Art in the Streets” exhibition, Bonham’s Urban Art auction) is poised to generate both record-breaking prices and critical validation for many of the genre’s oft-doubted talents. Pieces like Bansky’s “Lenin on Rollerblades (Who Put Revolution on Ice?)” and “Winnie the Pooh” look to sell for upwards of $50,000 each, figures sure to leave the classic-art old-guard’s jaws permanently dropped.

Helmed by Gareth Williams, author of the creative salvage art-book Cut and Shut and pioneer of the Urban art auction format, this October’s auction finds itself riding a swell of street art interest and enthusiasm in the Southern California art market. “We are bringing the sale to Los Angeles because of the huge level of interest we have received from Californian collectors,” says Williams. “Last year’s critically acclaimed “Art in the Streets” exhibition at MoCA and the numerous sell-out shows by leading Urban artists, seems to have captured the public imagination here.”

Of course, to most this comes as a little surprise. Building upon the expressive DIY nature of American culture, Urban art has long presented itself as a rebellion to the cost, inaccessibility and status-centric leanings of traditional fine-art and buyers have responded to its unabashed authenticity. Utilizing traditional street art techniques like spray-stencilling and the repurposing of supposedly worthless street objects, Williams believes Bonham’s permanent incarnations of impermanent art still capture the original spirit of Urban creation.“The works are still politicized and champion the underdog,” Williams says, and though the results of America’s first Urban Art auction are still unknown, one thing is certain: We Americans never pass up a good underdog story.

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