How art historians & the market will respond to Dash Snow's death.

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve sat down and written a blog post!! I have been so busy running around here and there and haven’t had a great opportunity to take a few minutes and reflect. But now I’m back in Jacksonville after a stint in both Houston and Orlando and I can’t wait to tell everyone all about it.

First things first, since I wrote last there have been quite a few crazy developments in the art world. Aside from some new auction results (Old Master works are holding steady), Dash Snow passed away from a Heroin overdose. As you know, I’ve already blogged about him before. As a highly publicized member of the New York avant garde, Snow became infamous due to his gritty work, colorful lifestyle, and impressive family heritage. Because of this, I figured it might be a little fun to hypothesize how he’ll be remembered and how well his work will do in the art market. And, since he is already getting nods from fellow graffiti artists Os Gemeos, see left, I thought I may as well give him a bit of a nod as well. Interestingly, the mural by Os Gemeos, which is located in the Bowery and Houston corridor in New York has already been tagged with a note that people should blog about it. So thank you random taggers, I will gladly accept your invitation and go out on a limb and say that the Os Gemeos mural would probably not suite Dash Snow at all. Snow would consider the work too culturally specific, maybe even non-urban, and since he was gradually more focused on photography and collage, possibly a little out of date. As an aside, I actually personally like the mural. I just don’t think Snow would agree.

No publicity is bad publicity, and despite what people say, Dash Snow clearly recognized his cult-like underground celebrity. The very nature of his work was voyeuristic. Snow extended his personal and work mystique by becoming reclusive and just plain bizarre. Snow’s identification as a defunct de Menil and Saatchi collaborator made the coarse nature of his pieces even more appealing, creating a unique, multi-layered sentiment to his body of work.

So here’s how I think it’s going to go… Let me begin by saying that I have heard that Snow’s work is already priced 15-20 percent higher than it was the day before he passed. This seems to be just a rumor to me, as ARTINFO is reporting that no one has sold a piece since July 13th. Today in fact, a piece was pulled from a benefit auction for the Watermill Center until further notice ( Despite this, there should be a jump in price immediately for Dash Snow pieces. People will be panicked with the finite supply that is left and leap at an opportunity to own it. I actually think that the 15-20 percent mark is underpriced. The work can be considered a little unpalatable to the unseasoned collector, but in the worId of contemporary art Snow’s aesthetic fits nicely amongst edgier British artists. Plus, he has pieces in the Whitney and the Brooklyn Museum. Because of this, I believe that there will be a significant increase in the price of his pieces. This will only be dampened if Saatchi randomly decides to flood the secondary auction market with Snow pieces. Dash Snow over all will prove to be a wise investment over the course of the next few years.

So how do I think Snow will be remembered by Art Historians? I think he will be represented as a transitional figure that put an edgier spin on the work of graffiti artists popularized in the 1980s. I also believe that his subject matter will also hold up because the visceral response it evokes will be considered a more American take on the Young British Artist movement. The obvious reference will be Jean-Michel Basquiat since he also began his career in New York as a graffiti artist and then inconveniently passed away at age 28 due to a drug overdose. To date, Basquiat’s work has gone through periods of high and low value. And, although I do recognize the obvious talent of Basquiat I tend to believe that overall he has been overvalued. In my defense, even MOMA has had reservations and as of 2006 had never invested in a piece of Basquiat’s work. Snow will probably be the same way. His work will thrive short-term in private collections but many larger museums will hesitate to invest. There will be an immediate reliance on the auction market. This could lead to initial fame but will not guarantee that Snow will be one of the epic artists of this decade. In short, he’ll be remembered but it will mostly be as historical footnote that will mention the notoriety of his de Menil ancestry. Peak value of his work will probably be in 4 to 7 years as we gain more perspective about the direction of contemporary art, the economy changes, and the shocking visual aspect of 1990s British art is solidified into a more concise historical movement rather than a purely British aesthetic.