Photo: B. Alter
It's got a frame around it; so it must be art. This street art by famed (and bankable) graffiti artist Banksy appeared earlier this week on the side of a house in north London. Within 24 hours it was covered over with plywood. And within another 24 hours it was framed and protected with plexi-glass. Does that make it art?
Earlier this month we questioned when graffiti was art and when it wasn't. This philosophical debate was initiated because a graffiti artist named Tox was convicted of criminal damage.
Photo: banksy: the original
Then Banksy, posted this piece in support of his comrade. Instead of being charged as well, his piece has been enshrined. Is this a double standard?
Photo: B. Alter: interim covering
We all have our own view of which is art and which isn't. The prosecutor in the Tox case had his. He said: "He is no Banksy. He doesn't have the artistic skills, so he has to get his tag up as much as possible." The art market has made up its mind. On a recent television show, 4 art dealers priced a piece of hacked-off wall with a Banksy piece on it. The estimates went from £45,000 to £150,000.
It's certainly being enjoyed and admired by many people, like an outdoor art museum. At least half a dozen stopped and looked whilst we were there.
Some would make a distinction between Tox's repetitive tagging and the more creative pieces by the likes of Banksy. But in the eyes of the law, if it's private property and it is defaced then there is a penalty, regardless of the artistic merit.
We don't know who has protected it; the home owner or the local authorities. But whoever made the decision, it has now been changed from graffiti to art. All with the help of a frame and a plastic screen.