Alec Monopoli beat Banksy in Kyiv. The graffiti artist created an original art object on the side of one of the busiest roads in the Ukrainian capital. He announced this on his page on Instagram. Now, this art can be rightfully considered a landmark for the city as a whole. The graffiti artist is a top art creator all over the globe. And even Banksy has been left behind.
Alec Monopoli is an iconic graffiti artist from New York, famous for the ironic image he invented of Mr. Monopoly (Monops). He’s worked his way up from street artist to “art provocateur” for the Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer. He even painted his character on the legendary Hermès Birkin bags. Fans of Alec’s work include actors Robert De Niro, Adrien Brody and Seth Rogen, singers Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea, and rapper Snoop Dogg.
An encoded message
Like Banksy, his idol, Monopoli is critical of capitalism and hides his face under a mask, but he is not completely anonymous. Alec Monopoli’s real last name is Andon, he was born into a family of financiers and spent his childhood in the prestigious Westhampton Beach neighborhood. The atmosphere and culture of New York City gave Alec a lot. Being an integral part of New York City, the many graffiti on the streets incredibly inspired him. In numerous interviews, he admits that street art feels more real to him. Alec Andon first picked up a spray can when he was 12 years old. At the same age, he sold his drawing for $500.
In 2006 he moved to Los Angeles, and in 2008 he began drawing a character on the streets that resembled a banker from the game Monopoly. Seeing how much the economic crisis of 2008 was affecting the people of the United States, Alec felt the need to express his thoughts and feelings through Mr. Monopoly. He considers Monops an icon of capitalism, and has used his image to express his opinions on a variety of socially important topics, from health care to the state of the economy. As the Huffington Post wrote about him, in an era of bailouts of the banks that owned the country, the recontextualization of the child symbol of wealth and success is almost self-explanatory.
Graffiti is Alec Monopoli’s way of making art accessible. Using recognizable images helps passersby feel a connection to the art world. By the way, taking into account the fact that painting graffiti in most cases is considered an act of vandalism, the artist tries to avoid this aspect. In an interview with Juxtapoz magazine, he shared that he stays away from mailboxes, freeways and highways, in general, from any federal and government property. Alec Monopoli likes warehouses and abandoned buildings better, and he would never paint a coffee shop building.
Sometimes, however, he likes to leave graffiti in atypical places, like Beverly Hills or Belle ere, known for their refined homes and perfectly trimmed lawns. “I want to reach as many people as possible. It’s important to me to express myself by bringing art into people’s lives in unexpected places, making it an interesting surprise,” Alec explains.
Having worked in Los Angeles, Miami and New York, the street art artist has also worked on the streets of Paris and other European cities. You can also find his graffiti in Singapore and other Asian cities.
Among his famous collaborations is the Alec Monopoly+Plein collection. Collaborating with the flamboyant designer, Alec Monopoly created graffiti prints for Philipp Plein clothes, conveying the atmosphere of the metropolis with its creative freedom. As well as the painted dollar signs, Monopi’s character uniting features of the artist and Mr. Monopoli, logos with sweats and splashes of paint adorned T-shirts, leathernecks and jeans of the luxury brand.
Collaborations with brands
Three years ago, in 2016, Alec Monopoli became a creative consultant. More precisely, an “art provocateur” for the watch brand TAG Heuer. His slogan “Do not surrender to the onslaught” is in tune with the bold style of the street artist. The image of Monopi mocking the world of big money on a $6,050 watch looks really impressive. An avant-garde watch brand like TAG Heuer can afford a little self-irony. At Alec Monopoli’s first solo exhibition in Moscow, sponsored by the brand in the summer of 2018, one could admire Mr. Monopoli’s sculpture in addition to the paintings. As well as a huge balalaika contrabass painted by the “art provocateur.”
Another, and most scandalous contact with the world of luxury brands was Alec Monopoli’s painting of the iconic Hermès Birkin handbags. In addition to his mascot character, the artist adorned the luxury bags with images of Scrooge McDuck and comic book hero Richie Rich. A customized neon-green Birkin with Monops running around with a bag of money was walked by Khloe Kardashian. The bag, on the front of which the graffiti artist wrote Khloe’s nickname “Khlomoney,” is a truly unique object.