Last week, on May 16th, Artcurial  hosted a unique and pioneering retrospective auction looking back onto 3 decades of urban culture:  C.R.E.A.M., was the title, namely from “Cash,Rule, Everything, Around ME, ” as in the legendary New York rappers Wang Tang Clan sang in their hit popular chorus which became an anthem for an entire generation.

The auction was revealed only one week prior to the public exhibition and ten days prior to the auction, but saw a unusual auction room crowded by bidders who were mostly young and urban, wearing baseball caps, hoodies and sneaker. Largely French, but with a scattering of Chinese and Americans, few in the registered crowd were likely to have been to a traditional auction before.

But the final result was a complete success with  94% of the 135 lots eventually found a owner, and final totals doubled the global pre-sale estimate, reaching 850,681 euros, or $1 million.


Through the prism of the works of art and inescapable destiny of the Supreme
brand, Artcurial, already a precursor in Urban Art promotion throughout the
international art market, successfully celebrated the urban culture as an artistic and fundamental societal factor,  now part of a widespread social trend and identity.
«Similar to theBeautiful Losers exhibition of 2004, C.R.E.A.M. looks back to the origins and multiple accents of the protean urban scene that showcased iconic American East and West-coast artists of street culture and all of its derivatives. Artists such as Barry McGee and Todd James opened the way to the current development of Urban art.» said Arnaud Oliveux, specialist Urban Art, Artcuria
After 3 years gathering the 135 sale items from private hands, the evening sale saw great results. Especially Supreme distinctive red and white logo-bedecked products created the most excitement at auction, with a punching bag going for €20,150, a Fender guitar for €5,200 and a three-foot by one-foot painted sign for €54,600, eight times its estimated price.

The star of the sale, however, was a Malle Courrier 90 steamer trunk from the sellout Supreme x Louis Vuitton pairing last year, eventually sold for €88,400, making it the top lot of the night (a smaller Supreme x Louis Vuitton trunk for skateboards sold for €62,400).

Other non-Supreme items also performed well:

The success of the works by street artists KAWS and his 4 Foot Companion (Black) from 2007 (lot 22) selling for doubleits estimate at €80,600/ $95,108, and Futura 2000, with Strawberry parfait II from 2009 (lot 14) obtained €49,400 / $58,292 (estimate: €15,000 – 20,000), confirming the interest of this panoramic offer of urban culture and various artistic formats, resonating with the Supreme skateboards created in partnership with artists Damien Hirst, Terry Richardson and Takashi Murakami.  ZEVS piece, Liquidated Supreme from 2010 (lot 9), representing the famous red and white logo of the Streetwear company perfectly illustrate the powerful links between artists and the brands relating to the sector. It sold for more that 10 times its estimate at €54,600/ $64,428 including fees. In the same spirit, Artcurial offered the piece I shop therefore I am by Barbara Kruger from 1990, whose graphical code inspired the creation of the Supreme logo: estimated €800 – 1,200 (lot 50), it sold for €3,300 / $3,894.


Ultimately the auction was another confirm that what originally started out as a protest movement from the minority communities evolved into a new style
of artistic expression, then a mainstream culture currently irrigating all creative sectors of contemporary society,  and eventually also luxury collectible pieces with an high symbolic (and economic) value.

Barbara KRUGER, I shop therefore I am, 1990, Photolithographie en couleurs ©Artcurial

In fact, while the 1990’s were experimental, particularly with the development of an alternative underground arts and music scene, urban culture begins to assert itself in the year 2000. Little by little, experimentation makes way to a more official format that appears in galleries and concepts stores such as Colette in Paris. Pushed center stage by an unexpected musical explosion, it
was in Paris that street culture earned its first signs of true legitimacy. Indeed, in 2001, then head of Louis Vuitton Marc Jacob’s choice to have street artist Stephen Sprouse bring a breath of fresh air to the famous monogrammed pattern(which to many was considered blasphemous), was, to street
culture, practically a légion d’honneur.
Today street culture is perhaps not as rebellious or spontaneous as it once was. Official ceremonies and red carpets almost never go by without a star in sneakers and now even auction house have placed it as largely desired collectible.
 “The C.R.E.A.M auction is a major milestone for us,” Artcurial director Mr. Naudan said, “not just in terms of the type of clients we have attracted with it, but also in terms of what it says about changing perceptions of valuable art and design in the current market.”
Definitely this auction has confirmed the importance of Urban culture as a widespread and largely engaging phenomenon at all population group, showing how objects of everyday life today have eventually become cult.

As Fabien Naudan commented ” Prices achieved for both Supreme objects and for works of artists belonging to the generation of this unprecedented global movement, confirm international interest for urban culture… “


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