Much like New York in the early 1980s, London in the 2000s experienced a street art boom. But unlike the faster-than-light price appreciation across the Pond, the city’s print scene made collecting accessible to all – or, at least, those willing to wait in line. At galleries such as Black Rat Press, Lazarides and Elms Lesters, sneaker collectors mixed with bankers and students chatted to art dealers.
First ever UK solo exhibition of KAWS in 2002 at Elms Lesters.
In Hackney, collectors scoured the streets for found pieces by the likes of Adam Neate. International superstars such as Shepard Fairey showed work with emerging UK talent. Many of the latter would go on to have stellar careers: Conor Harrington, for example, whose work featured in the Saatchi Gallery’s recent Beyond The Streets exhibition alongside US legends such as Keith Haring and Fab 5 Freddy.
Installation shots of Beyond The Streets at Saatchi Gallery, 2023
The Banksy Effect: one man’s Great British brand
There’s no doubt that one man was more responsible than most for the street art explosion.
“Banksy is an old friend, and the energy he has created around public art in London has affected the entire scene," Shepard Fairey told the Evening Standard in 2012.
The artist had already gained notoriety in his native Bristol when he embraced stencils as a way to increase his output at the turn of the millennium. His political commentary struck a chord with a left-leaning Britain while acting as a rallying cry against burgeoning consumerism.
Banksy created this work as part of The Cans Festival, Leake Street, London, 2008. It no longer exists.
Pest Control Office
Very soon, Banksy became a celebrity favourite: Brad Pitt allegedly commissioned him to create a work to mark Hurricane Katrina back in 2005; Robbie Williams supposedly bought his first Banksy in 2006. His resulting fame came with a trickle-down effect – the art world’s laser focus on the UK.
By the time Hang-Up began selling Banksy back in 2008, he was a household name. And, when the gallery set up a Banksy Bunker at its first premises in Dalston, it drew visitors from all over the world.
These days, Banksy has the hearts of auctioneers and high-profile collectors but 2023 has also marked a noticeable return to the streets. Then there’s his current stencil retrospective, Cut and Run, at the Glasgow Gallery of Art – a fond (and authorised) look back at where it all began.
Hang-Up Gallery's Banksy Bunker in 2017
Net gains: street art’s place on the web
At the beginning of the century, there was another phenomenon fuelling the hype too: the internet. Only recently widely used, the world wide web spawned forums full of street art collectors discussing limited print releases, artists’ identities and much more.
Thanks to the street art boom’s origins at the beginning of the internet, online marketplaces soon became the most popular places to buy prints and limited editions – widening the market way beyond those London gallery openings and ensuring collecting remained accessible.
This growing community fed the resale fire at a point when options were thin on the ground, trading online and creating a cycle of demand. It wasn’t long before online galleries such as Hang-Up opened to cater for buyers who wanted to be certain of expertise and authenticity.
Keep scrolling to see some works you could add to your street art collection.
A Panel of Experts
- Screen print on paper
- Edition of 85
- Stamped and signed by Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux, the artist’s sisters and administrators of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
- 102cm x 102cm
- Sold framed
POA | £40,000 - £60,000
Jean-Michel Basquiat – A Panel of Experts
The fistfight at the top of the left rectangle of this piece is a stick-figure representation of an actual encounter between two women in a New York nightclub: Basquiat’s girlfriend, Suzanne Mallouk (nicknamed Venus) and his lover, the singer Madonna, who, despite the copyright symbol beside her name, was not yet a celebrity.
Girl With Balloon (Purple AP) - Signed
- Screen print on paper
- Artist's proof
- Signed and numbered
- 50cm x 70cm
- Total edition of 88 APs comprising different colour variants
- Full Pest Control COA
- Sold framed
POA | Over £160,000
Banksy – Girl With Balloon (Purple AP) - Signed
1 Sep 2023 | 3 min read
7 Aug 2023 | 4 min read
3 Aug 2023 | 5 min read
25 Jul 2023 | 5 min read
24 Jul 2023 | 3 min read
20 Jun 2023 | 2 min read
19 Jun 2023 | 4 min read
19 Jun 2023 | 7 min read
12 Jun 2023 | 4 min read