art by Claude J. Easy March 12, 2019
It should come as no surprise that the art market is transforming into something special. In recent artnet research, a second Intelligence Report indicates that street art is having a moment.
It’s obvious that with the rise of the internet and social media platforms artists no longer have to rely on galleries to connect them to collectors, an audience, or big brands. A prime example of this is the case of KAWS. “Lightly noted” in the extensive report, the street artist has had one hell of a year.
On artnet’s Price Database, the ‘graffiti artist turned overnight sensation’ was the 24th-most-searched artist and of his 1,293 lots listed on the database, 86 percent, or 1,085,
Additionally, if you check the Gram, #KAWS pops up in over 900,000 different posts. In relation to the KAWS phenomenon, Jacob Lewis, director of Pace Prints told artnet,
“I think we’re seeing the effects of how the art market has gone global… Social media is telling the marketplace what is important culturally.”
His social media and internet exposure have easily translated into dollars and dope collaborations with clothing brands, rappers, music producers, magazines, auction houses, and liquor brands.
Throughout his career, KAWS has managed to snag partnerships with MTV, The New Yorker, Nike, MoMa, Air Jordan, Uniqlo, and many more. All the merch goes without explaining that he’s a GOAT of his time.
This goes beyond swaggy partnerships with mega companies. He’s made his own by flipping toys, sculptures, prints, and paintings all worth millions of dollars.
Also, boasting their collections heavy on social media, are a different kind of connoisseur outside the art-market bubble like reality star Kylie Jenner and her baby daddy Travis Scott, Swizz Beatz and Pharrell.
What’s profound? On Instagram, #KAWS beat out #JeffKoons, #JeanMichelBasquiat, and #DamienHirst combined by around 204,000 Instagram posts. Swizz Beatz told artnet about the rise of the graffiti artist to the mainstream,
“I’ve seen him go from an underground artist that a few people knew to being on the main stage.”
In 2018, KAWS’ work generated a total of $33.8 million at auction—a 260 percent increase from the previous year, according to the artnet Price Database. Plus, his average sale price nearly doubled, to $82,063 from $42,272 in 2017. Bank.
This feels good to know that the social media generation and younger’s outlook on art has an impact on the market. Alberto Mugrabi, whose family owns the world’s largest private collection of work by Andy Warhol explained to artnet,
“Collectors would come to my office to look at Warhol or Basquiat and tell me, ‘My son or daughter wants me to look at KAWS.’ That was insane— it showed me the generation to come was leading the way. An eight-yearold? A 24-year old?”