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Street artist 'Space Invader' believed detained in L.A. vandalism case


The Los Angeles Police Department believes one of two French nationals detained on suspicion of vandalism near MOCA's Little Tokyo gallery was the famed street artist known as "Space Invader."

The pair were detained Friday after authorities reportedly caught them with buckets of grout and pieces of tile near the historic Perez building in Little Tokyo.

Jack Richter, an LAPD senior lead officer, said authorities believe that one of those detained was Space Invader, who has left mosaic tiles of the vintage video game of the same name in cities around the world. The pair were released while the investigation continued, and Richter said officials were checking with federal immigration officials to see if they had flown back to Paris.

After their release, the trademark mosaics were discovered attached to several buildings, including the Geffen Contemporary, he added.

Officials believe the pair were in L.A. for  MOCA's "Art in the Streets," billed as the first major U.S. museum survey exhibition on graffiti and street art.

The exhibition traces the development of graffiti and street art from the 1970s "to the global movement, concentrating on key cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and São Paulo, Brazil, where a unique visual language or attitude has evolved," the MOCA website says. The show has caused some debate about the line between art and vandalism.


Photos: MOCA's 'Art in the Streets' show

Art review: 'Art in the Streets' at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Tiles arranged in a space invader design affixed to a building at the corner of Fourth and Alameda streets. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Comments () | Archives (79)

Street artist? Do you mean vandal?

I love space invader. His art is fantastic, how an art work like this can be treated the same as some idiots tagging is insane.

Looks like art to me.

Space invader strikes again! I say lock him up and feed him freedom fries all day. USA! USA!USA!

This is the best looking and coolest "Graffiti" I have ever seen. I live in a condo, so I can't do it, but If I had a house...I'd let them tag it.

Allez les Bleus!

I love this guy's work. I've seen it in several cities. Mostly Paris. They shouldn't arrest him, they should give him a medal.

give them a toothbrush and a bucket and make them clean "art" off of the walls in skid row

That is actually pretty cool. Better than just a bunch of scribbles on a wall.

Why is the LAPD wasting its time with mosaic-building artists? The area around 4th and Alameda is replete with beautiful and creative graffiti art, and it's a shame the LAPD feels the need to arrest the artists who create it.

On another note, the LAPD still hasn't captured the two miscreants who beat Brian Stow into a coma at Dodger Stadium. I guess it's easier to arrest sculptors and harass pot smokers than to catch seriously violent criminals.

"released while they investigated"? Policing at it's finest. Isn't it obvious that two French nationals were not busy redoing a kitchen floor when caught with tiles, grout and related equipment in the middle of the night?

I love it! It makes me smile. Maybe because it just speaks to my fond memories of the old Atari 2600 game. But you can't compare this to tagging or even that garish mural that was painted over in Valley Village recently. I'd definitely call it art.

So when do I and Mario get our representation on the streets? I'm feeling dissed here. Makes me want to start chucking barrels off of buildings...

I'm not sure why this is complicated. If a property owner doesn't want these pieces of "art" on their buildings they have to pay to have it removed. They lose money because someone else decided to write/draw/spray/tile on their property. If the "artist" asks permission beforehand and gets approval from the owner than there's no problem. That would be called consent.

As a society we don't think its acceptable for a stranger to walk in and steal $200 from a business' cash register. Why is it different when the business has to pay $200 to remove unwanted "art" on the side of the building?

Be an entrepreneur. ASK businesses if they want your "art" on their buildings. Explain how having this "art" will attract attention and help their business. Get paid for your efforts.

LOL!!!!...at least he is original..to think of something like this instead of tagging and really destroying places...it gives a touch of color to the scenery....

That's not vandalism or mere tagging. This mosaic is not a bad work of art. Quite formal really: truth to materials and a narrative of our computer culture.

Stop saying street artist and use the correct term : criminal vandal. And lets cut off his index finger as proposed by upcoming referendum legislation: "remove or crush the index finger of any tagger or shooter". Who's with me? lets get this rolling.

It's looks to me that this time the vandalism actually improves the appearance of a building, especially on this broken down piece of real estate.

This certainly points up the hypocrisy of MOCA's Jeffrey Deitch pledging to help police prevent graffiti in the neighborhood. Now one of "his" artists has been arrested. The work certainly improved the "historic" Perez building, I'm sure the property value just went way up. Anyway, watch Mocaca, Out of the BLU on YouTube for an interesting take on the Art in the Streets show...

Wake me when they collar Banksy

Space invader is not graffiti his art is a blessing for you!

The major point the haters are missing is having an original Space Invader on this building just doubled his real estate value.

I'm old and opinionated so I'm not gonna try and understand "new" forms of art. From my understanding of the world everything remains the same and exactly like I like it. Progress? What's that?

Funny how on an article yesterday that included pictures of a spraypaint-tagged wall, 90% of people were screaming that graffiti isn't art. This article shows up today with it's tidy mosaic and suddenly 90% say the opposite. Sounds like a lot of us are easily swayed by pretty pictures and complicated issues.

Hell, it's not even that complicated, the artistic merit and legality/morality of the work are two different things. This work is vandalism, but it's still art. This shouldn't be a case-by-case debate. Vandalism is illegal, and graffiti artists who feel their art must be illegal should go to jail when caught. French artists don't get to decide for L.A. property owners where they need tiles, but ladies in Valley Village should have the right to let whomever paint whatever on their own property. Art is always subjective, law should never be.

Yeah, it's cool art. But it will look like crap in a few months when the taggers scribble over it.

The City of Los Angeles is currently firing over 6,000 teachers to save money. But they are spending $37 million a year to (often illegally) paint over contracted murals and anything the graffiti removal task force randomly deems "unwanted." Blight exists in Downtown LA, period. Street artists most often chose broken-down abandoned buildings as canvas drawing interest and global attention to otherwise overlooked areas. Sadly, the level of ignorance on the part of city officials is so high, that they are also spending millions to have contracted, legal, murals removed as well. This is like someone coming into your home and spraying over a painting in your house and telling you it isn't art because the city didn't approve it. If I was the owner of this dilapidated property, I'd be flattered the artist deemed it worthy of his artwork.

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