What's the difference between street art and vandalism? After years of careful observation of the participants I think I am ready to give an answer.
But first a journey to the centre of the 'What is art?' conundrum. The that's-not-art-my-three-year-old-could-have-done-that brigade miss the point that if their three year old did it now it would be plagiarism. For conceiving of an installation, even if it is only putting two things in juxtaposition and giving them a ridiculous title, is part of the art as well as making it and presenting it. And viewing it? Well? Is it art if nobody sees it? I answer this in a screenplay I have been trying to get made for over ten years. Call me for a treatment.
I digress. Must stop doing that in paragraph two.
Once the street vandal, Banksy is now Bristol's favourite son. His work is protected, cleaned up if it is vandalised, and made available in museums.
Now he has put a piece on a board attached to a wall. And started a row over who owns it. The council own the wall but did not know they did until they checked. The boys' club the wall is attached/adjacent to took the panel down and started asking for donations to come in and view.
A value has been put on the work of a cool million so people started to take notice then. And although it has all the style of a Banksy (probably the work of a team rather than an individual though) it has not been authenticated because Banksy rarely authenticates. Indeed when he recently sold original works in New York for knock-down prices he couldn't shift more than three because nobody believed in their provenance.
So. We like it if we believe it is by somebody good more than if we simply like it. We don't have to like it, or even decide what it is, before it becomes an investment opportunity.
A tentative conclusion. If I say something is art it is art. If you want to treat something as art it is art. If you like it, it's street art; if you don't, it's vandalism.