Everybody takes street art for granted and indeed they are right! Street Art is now everywhere and anywhere, all over the world, accessible to all public, and this is what makes it so relevant to all of us!

.  .  .

WHAT IS URBAN ART?

Nowadays street art is everywhere, not only on the streets, but also in galleries, and auction houses, but what is street art today? Street art is a form of visual art originally created in public locations, most often unsanctioned organic artworks generated outside the context of traditional art venues. This term gained popularity during the Graffiti Art Boom of the early 80’s in NYC. But it now includes many other techniques beyond graffiti, like stencils, wheat-pasted poster art, sticker art, bombs and spray painting, various street installations, and video projections such as mapping. That is why we would rather use the term of Urban Art.

Urban art is so relevant today because artists choose to use the streets as their galleries, in order to communicate directly with the public at large, free from any constraints, and any subjective selection from the art world or elite. They often show socially relevant content infused with aesthetic value, to attract attention, and also to raise awareness of political and social issues. Urban art has now become everything from vandalism, many urban quarters all over the world, many building owners are now actually calling urban artists to cover their walls with art… The beauty of urban art is that it is easily accessible to a wide public, with NO DISCRIMINATION, NO BARRIER, NO COMPROMISE!

WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF URBAN ART?

Much of what can now be defined as modern street art has well-documented origins dating from the New York graffiti boom, with its infancy in the 60’s, maturation in the 70’s, and peaking with the spray-painted full car subway murals of the 1980’s centered in the Bronx.

Keith Haring was doing his “SUBWAY DRAWINGS” in the early 80’s in the subway stations of New-York and got arrested several times, Jean-Michel Basquiat, who is now one of the most expensive artists in the world, started with tagging SAMO (“Same Old Shit”) all over the streets of Chelsea in New-York.

But Urban Art has been with us all along, provocative slogans were written in walls all over cities since human urban history, the wall of Berlin has always been painted by artists, even cave men were painting and representing their own visuals in their living environments… Street art was among human beings even before street and urban environment existed.

WHERE IS URBAN ART?

The beauty of Urban Art is that it is everywhere; we just need to open our eyes in any urban environment. It is now a global phenomenon with no frontier. From Bogota, to Paris, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, it abolishes any language and social levels. 

And of course Miami, the Wynwood District has become a true mecca for Urban Art with more than 100 walls from the top artists coming from all over the world. Tony Goldman was a visionary, he was the first one who created an open-air museum only made of entire walls painted by Urban Artists, the most well-known in the world such as Ron English, Os Gemeos, Kenny Scharf, Shepard Fairey, Lady Aiko, and many more. Nowhere in the world, one can find such a concentration of such aesthetically pleasing urban art gathering all possible techniques from bombing, to spray-painting, wheat-pasting, cement carving together with an explosion of color and of visuals for the pleasure of hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

But it is not only in the streets…

It is now in galleries and in museums all over the world. Some galleries in Miami are showing urban art all year-round. Fine Arts Auction Miami, the leading auction house in Miami is presenting each year a dedicated auction to Urban Art over President’s day, in February of each year. There is indeed a well-established auction market for the leading artists of Street Art such as Banksy. The highest price paid at auction one of his works reached USD 1.9 million, as early as 2008. Nowadays, street art sells frequently at auctions and in galleries. Still one can purchase an exceptional unique artwork by a major street artist at a fraction of the price of an artwork by Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein. It seems clear that street art today will be the pop art of tomorrow!

MIAMI AS A GLOBAL URBAN ART HUB

With more than 80,000 international visitors attending more than 20 art fairs in Miami Beach and Miami in a single week, it is estimated that, what has become one of the most important art weeks in the world, now injects the city with over USD 500 million per year.

However Miami has an exciting art scene to offer all year-round, with the Wynwood Art District counting more than 50 art galleries and private collections, the revival of Downtown notably with the world-acclaimed new PAMM museum, and many more… Miami has truly become a global cultural and urban hub. Urban Art will be shown in most art fairs for the pure pleasure of all public. 

Buying art might be seen as an investment nowadays but it is above all satisfying and fulfilling. Living with an original work of art is a way of seeing the world differently, of seeing oneself differently, of stimulating our senses and our minds, and of sharing with our loved ones. With its multitude of art fairs, and presence of so many art professionals, artists, artworks from all over the world, Art Basel Miami Beach week provides just that!

This is why this special issue of ART AROUND TOWN for ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH week is so important, as it provides a guide for all the art fairs, and has referenced some of the most important events to attend and some of the most impressive artworks on DISPLAY. Not necessarily from well-known and obvious artists, but also from emerging artists as Miami provides also with the opportunity of new and exciting discoveries.

.  .  .

We are so much looking forward to a very exciting and unique art week!

SEBASTIEN LABOUREAU