Graffiti or Vandalism?
"The public are not impressed by graffiti. It is just a bit of a mess," said Keith Elgar, the father of Daniel Elgar, a 19-year-old who was killed last week after he went out, late at night, to tag or, depending on your point of view, vandalise, District line tube carriages in London. Elgar asked his son's friends not to risk their lives tribute tagging. "We are totally against the type of thing they were doing on Friday night."
But, of course, not everyone shares his reservations. The market in Banksy, for example, the street artist whose ephemeral stencils have become such a popular fixture in the homes of pop singers and Hollywood stars, was again in evidence this week, at the London Art Fair. Within minutes of its opening, frustrated connoisseurs of anti-establishment art were contemplating the red dot adorning a £700 Banksy print; the one of a rat holding a banner reading, "Get out while you can."
Presumably, such acclaim, and prices, will only intensify graffiti production at the risky tagging end, with artists demonstrating that their art has an anarchic integrity that transcends its investment potential, before responding to this vigorously expanding market with yet more subversive work in the £5,000-£50,000 bracket.
But how much safer, and simpler, it would be if the artists could cut out the galleries - and the police, the street cleaners and the magistrates - and take their art straight to the buyers, applying their stencils and colourful aerosols directly, and on a scale that is more appropriate to the inviting outer surfaces of their clients' homes and offices.
Not only would more senseless deaths on railway sidings be avoided in this way; graffiti critics, in their housing estates, would be spared this particular form of vandalism, while the bankers and lawyers, copywriters and estate agents who are now emerging as the tagging community's most enthusiastic patrons would surely find the messages conveyed on their extensively graffiti'd premises to be the envy of neighbours and clients alike.