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SOURCE Modern Auctions
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Oct. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Stateside residency of elusive British street artist and public prankster Banksy has sparked a frenzy in the street-art marketplace. Some say that although he didn't plan it that way, the famously anti-commercial Banksy has propelled street art to its greatest mainstream recognition level ever with his recent overnight creations, and $60 pop-up art stand in Central Park. The chatter and media coverage generated by Banksy's obsessively documented New York activities suggest the timing is perfect for a major work by an American street art pioneer – Barry McGee – to make an appearance at auction.
McGee has street cred to spare, and his work is in high demand, but it's rare for a McGee artwork – especially one of monumental size – to show up at auction. When his public profile skyrocketed after the 2001 Venice Biennale, much of McGee's San Francisco Mission District street art was scavenged or stolen. Hence the excitement over a canvas entered in Palm Beach Modern Auctions' (PBMA) November 2nd sale of modern art and sculptural design.
"It's a quintessential example of an exciting art movement – a sort of neo folk art that resembles the hobo paintings on trains that run between San Francisco and Canada," said PBMA auctioneer Rico Baca. "The McGee artwork is painted on US Army surplus canvas and measures an impressive 85.5 by 105 inches. It has that classic McGee look, with one dominant central figure and trademark drips of paint in the background."
The McGee canvas is expected to sell for $50,000-$80,000 and has a minimum opening bid of $44,000. Baca predicts multiple bidders will compete at that price point, citing the (approx.) $40,000 price paid at a major international auction house in May for a smaller McGee.
"The McGee artwork in our auction is by a legendary street art pioneer and has great provenance," said Baca. "It was exhibited in San Francisco in the 1990s and will be auctioned together with a copy of a 2010 photo of the consignor with McGee at Art Basel."
Baca believes street art is still in its relative infancy as a legitimate art category and that its potential is unlimited. "When you look at its evolution, street art is absolutely unique," Baca said. "It's gone from being illegal to being sold for five- and six-figure prices at prestigious galleries. Street art is attracting smart-money collectors. They're already eyeing our November 2nd sale."
Other hot-ticket street artists in the auction include Danny Simmons (brother of hip hop impresario Russell Simmons and Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons of Run-DMC), Shepard Fairey, Purvis Young and Katsu. While not technically "street art," auction entries by Jamie Reid, known for his punk rock show posters; and Donald Roller Wilson, whose work falls under the "Lowbrow" art movement, are expected to attract street art fans, as well.
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