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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)

Come on, the building needs to be 'clean up' anyway, no attention is given to it until 'Space Invader' stick his artwork there..

So, they put some decorative art on the walls of an otherwise shabby building. I think they're doing the city a favour by distracting us from urban blight.

The general American public would rather see some stupid H & M billboard or Starbucks advertisement pasted all over the fucking place than real artwork done by an international artist. This Country is so behind the times when it comes to art and culture. I can't wait to get the hell out of here.

If that is vandalism then LA needs a lot more vandalism.

Maybe instead of removing the space invader they should remove that whole decrepit building. The space invader is the only thing interesting about it.

"Art is always subjective, law should never be." Well stated Zach. Eloquent post. It is a complicated subject. As an Art Historian and former Museum Director, the first "art" on the West Coast that ever moved me was "Angels Will Rise" a group exhibit at Thomas Berman gallery in Santa Monica feat members of MSK/7th Letter. I didn't grow up w/graffiti so I have no negative relationships w/it. I'll stop my car and get out in a neighborhood I would normally only drive thru w/my doors locked to try and figure out who painted which characters or the message. If it's on the side of a business, I'll try to buy something from that establishment. In many parts of LA, street murals are the only beauty that exist amid endless miles of hopelessness, ruin, vacant lots, trash and violence. I hope city officials can find a more productive, cost-effective solution than using our tax dollars to police this non-violent issue.

I love when people sniffle down their noses at grafitti: "Art? That's ART? Looks like VANDALISM to me!". It is a validation that my life is richer, fuller and altogether more enjoyable than theirs. What do they consider "art"? Thomas Kinkaid, Painter of Light®? A great bargain on Yankee Candles? These sadsack Tea Party middle americans can have their bland, sterile walmart world of beige minimalls and ugly prefabbed houses stinking of Glade and hopelessness. I'm too busy enjoying the complex fabric of the world to sink to that pitiable level.

"The general American public would rather see some stupid H & M billboard...I can't wait to get the hell out of here."

So you'd be OK if I'd come over and dump a can of paint on your car? It's probably ugly anyway, I say it's an artistic improvement, so what's your problem?

Seriously, you can't understand why people are OK with being paid to host a billboard but not having some guy tag his wall (which they'll have to pay to clean up)? Yeah, I think we'll get by without you here, have a nice life!

Actually that man is well respected in the art world, his art sells for thousands and has a short biography in the movie "Exit Through The Gift Shop" and shows his world wide, serious art addiction with a uncontrollable desire to attack.. and invade the world with his amazing mosiacs. Unlike annoying "toy" graffiti art, this man puts up eye catching modern abstract original art. This folks, is street art. Hard work, run in's with the law, and pays well on the side too.

My 9 year-old son and I went to the Art In The Streets exhibit on Monday and had a great time spotting all the "Invaders" both in the exhibit and in the adjacent neighborhood. They are usually tucked away in little corners of buildings and actually look really, really good.....even my mom knows his work and spotted one of his pieces off the 5 freeway when we were in San Diego.....We Love Space Invader!!!

i wouldn't mind having tiled floor with "Space Invaders" design. it's one of my favorite video games.

One would think "vandalism" would decrease the value of a building; in this case it only makes it more interesting.

Yes, it's art.

artist. even the taggers are artists. u probably dont have a single piece of original art in your house. why would i even want to discuss art with you?

Oh, no. He's vandalized that beautiful, well kept building.

He should be beaten severely and dragged through the streets as an example for those who go against the rule of the government, where talking about anti-Gaddafi Libyans, right?

Seriously though, the government of Los Angeles spent tens of thousands of dollars painting over graffiti along the LA River while schools go without textbooks and classrooms are over crowded. I guess it's the only change Villaraigosa can show the public but he'll have to hire dozens of police officers to hold up traffic on the freeway so they can actually stop and see it for themselves. The upside is that he gets to hire campaign donors' companies to do the job, which in turn secures more campaign donations.

To sum it up briefly, street art/graffiti is the new gay, the new black, the new immigrant, anything to take your attention off the real issues...like why is the library never open? Must be those graffiti writers causing the budget short fall.

If I were the owner of this 400 Alameda building, I would invite the Invader back to tile up every inch of the wall. One condition is: they have to provide the tiles.

comparing real street art to idiots tagging people's personal belongings is ridiculous.

Space Invader is a vandal because he is placing his work on someone
else's palet. It isn't his to do with what he wants. Doens't matter if
he is Picasso.

This looks a lot nicer then the Homie crap with spray cans....although I guess if it is someone else's property and it was not requested it is still vandalism...that being said, it is pretty cool looking.

leave them alone. space invader and his friends are not criminals, no matter how the police dept interprets the law. these artists probably did come to participate, they shouldn't be persecuted for putting those pieces up. remember that a certain 'guerilla style' comes with the territory. this show is sponsored by a major art museum and everyone has known about it for months. the time to have squashed it has long passed, the artists are coming, and they will do what they do.
relax, sit back, enjoy what these talented, wonderful people do. some of it might be uncomfortable, true, but i'll bet some of this art will be sublime, and worthy of becoming a permanent part of the landscape.

No one likes billboards; they are there because politicians allow them. As to grafitti, if you like it by all means paint your living spaces with it. I prefer homes as they were intended by builder and owner, not vandalized by some solopsistic dork who needs his/her failure of a life to be validated.

Ironic that no gets this worked up from having to stare at the proliferation of massive Burger King ads without their permission but one tidy piece from an internationally recognized artists brings out the guillotine. How willing you are to not only let corporations bleed your money left and right but also leech what you get to look at in attempt to bleed your money.

Props to Sao Paulo, Brazil for banning all public advertising years ago.

The line between art and vandalism is clear. On your own property or by permission of the property owner = art. Defacing someone else's art such as a building or wall = vandalism. No debate is possible except by criminals!

I just drove by the 4th & Alameda building because I live around the corner and two guys were taking it down, 1 tile at a time. Such a shame, but does anyone know why or who took them down? The owners of the building or thieves?

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