To start the series, I'd like to share a picture of Invader's art that I spied while in Paris:
Invader (the artist's pseudonym) began his urban art "invasion" in Paris in 1998, clandestinely placing tile mosaics referencing the popular Space Invaders video game throughout the city. Today, Invader's mosaics are in many major cities around the world, including London, New York, Hong Kong, Istanbul, and Sao Paolo. In addition to creating Space Invader-like tile mosaics, Invader also uses Rubik Cubes for indoor mosaic installations.
Some owners are thrilled to have one of Invader's mosaics appear on the walls of their building. Vandals have been know to try to dislodge the mosaics in an attempt to sell a reconstructed mosaic on the Internet. (Buyer beware: all such reconstructions are fakes because the original tiles cannot withstand the removal process.) Other folks are not so excited about Invader's art. In the Fall of 2013, a New York City building owner somehow received advance notice that Invader had selected his building as the location for one of his newest installations; the building owner then worked in conjunction with the NY Police Department to apprehend Invader as he worked.
Whether welcome or not on the street, Invader's work has garnered him solo gallery exhibitions in Paris, Los Angeles, New York City, Osaka, London, Melbourne, and Rome. It's reported that, when sold through galleries, his work can garner six-figure sales prices.
Certainly there is a fair amount of mystique around Invader's work that propels purchase prices to high. Is mystique enough? Would the response have been the same -- both in enthusiasm for the art on the wall and the pricing -- if Invader had not chosen to work with a symbol from a game / from childhood entertainment? What if he had used a cross? Why was his art noticed? Did Invader get lucky choosing to start when he did, at a time when the internet could help dissipate stories of the mysterious artist working incognito?
Who knows. However, I think I'm going to enjoy trying to find some of the mosaics closer to home in NYC.