When art dies before the artist – NYC Says Goodbye to Kobra’s Mural
Street-art and graffiti rarely lasts a lifetime; however, there is something that feels sinful about destroying a piece of art that had such a profound and historical connection to the city that it inhabited. Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra’s recreation of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photograph for LIFE, depicting that now legendary kiss on V-day, became a staple of NYC’s street-art scene.
Whilst street-art and graffiti isn’t always widely accepted in society, legally or culturally, Kobra’s painting, visible from NYC’s High Line, was truly art for the masses. Evocative, vibrant and full of life, the painting was a perfect metaphor for everything that New York City is meant to represent and it’s departure, is a sad reminder that often, when art and money come up against each other, money will almost always win.
The wall, now grey and lifeless, was discovered early in the morning, apparently painted over by the buildings owners, who eventually plan to convert the property into apartments. The decision to remove the painting, whilst disappointing, also poses the question, who owns public art on private property? Brought to the public’s attention by artists such as Banksy, whose work has become very lucrative; street-art ownership is a widely debated subject amongst artists, cities and property owners, with no real consensus on the matter. With building landlords chopping out bits of street-art from their walls to auction off to art dealers, possession of public art is still a grey area that continues to provoke large-scale disputes and in some cases law-suits.
The owners of the property that Kobra’s mural was painted on, obviously believed that they had full possession of the building and anything associated with it, despite hosting a painting that was integral to the culture of New York City. Perhaps they anticipated that there would be public backlash to their decision to remove the mural and consequently decided that it would be in their best interest to paint over Kobra’s work quietly, in the middle of the night. Maybe if they had stated their plans in advance, the city would have fought them and won; now we will never know.
Fortunately, if you are in the New York area and wish to see some of Eduardo Kobra’s street-art, he recently completed a mural in New Jersey. The painting, a 180ft tribute to David Bowie, stays true to Kobra’s signature style and depicts the late singer in a multi-coloured, kaleidoscope fashion; a perfect homage to an icon. The spectacular painting is just as reminiscent and moving as his High Line work, but if you wish to view Kobra’s mural you should do so as soon as possible; you never know how long it will be there for.
Team Writer Jen Molloy