Art Market Blog – Affordable and Collectible Artworks No. 6
Although Bansky is the most popular street artist in the world I would not go as far to say that he is the best street artist in the world. The reason that Bansky is so popular is that he has created a highly marketable and saleable persona that feeds off people’s attraction to mystery, intrigue and controversy. It would be unfair not to give credit to Bansky for his role in the promotion and popularisation of street art but there are other street artists that deserve just as much credit for their achievements such as the Blek Le Rat. Before Bansky had even begun making his mark Blek Le Rat was thinking of ways to translate the artistic graffiti that he had seen in New York into a form that suited the vastly different urban landscape and culture of Paris. What he came up with was the use of stencils to transfer his images onto their architectural canvas, an idea that was influenced by the use of stenciled images as political propaganda by the Italian’s during world war II.
In an interview with Swindle Magazine Blek was asked how he came up with the name Blek le Rat to which he answered:
‘Blek le Roc [Blek the Rock] was a comic strip that I used to read when I was a kid. Blek le Roc was a fur trader or a trapper in the USA fighting against the British invasion army during the [sic] Boston Tea Party era. I used to love this comic strip, [which was] actually written and drawn by an Italian guy in the ’60s. When I started to make graffiti I took this name of Blek and I changed “the Rock” to “the Rat” because I used to paint rats in the street of Paris and also because in “rat” you can find “art.”
This particular work of Blek’s titled “The Man Who Walked Through Walls” is not one the most intellectual or intriguing artworks that I have come across but then again portraiture is an extremely difficult subject to work with because the whole point of a portrait is to display the likeness and personality of a person which limits what can be done. With his goal of getting noticed well and truly completed Blek is entitled to celebrate his success and achievements by indulging in the creation of a self portrait. Although this is a relatively simple artwork it represents a very personal and memorable journey that is worthy of recognition and celebration which is why I like this work so much. It is also important to note that “The Man Who Walked Through Walls” is the image being used for the cover of the
The now 56 year old Blek (real name Xavier Prou) is revered by street artists all over the world, including Bansky, yet is no where near as popular as many of the contemporary graffiti artists who followed in his footsteps. Street art is such a new market niche that people are still being dazzled by the new and exciting work being produced, but once the street art market matures people will begin looking back at the artists that pioneered the movement. With prices for Blek’s prints still very reasonable I would get in now before it’s too late as is the case with Banksy’s work which has shot through the roof.
“The Man Who Walked Through Walls” can be purchased from Butchers Hook gallery for only 500 pounds. To get your piece of street art history go here
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.
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