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

April 20, 2011 |  7:05 am


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