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Alec Monopoly - A Recognisable Face

Words:

Edd Norval
October 29, 2021

How many fights have famously been started at family get-togethers by the board game Monopoly? Very few things bring out the ruthless capitalist innate within us than the opportunity to get one over on the people we love the most. Alec Monopoly, the New York-based street artist, reminds us of our propensity towards greed by painting the iconic Monopoly Man in the city’s most viewed spaces.

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Jovial on the outside, the mere sighting of Monopoly Man is enough to bring back ghosts of Christmas past. Alec Monopoly understands the power of the man as more than just a reminder of familial fallout, though. To him, painting large murals of the Monopoly Man was a way to comment on something broader that was ravaging America at the time he began adopting the character. 


In an article by Huffington Post, the media outlet described his art, “In an era of billion dollar bailouts for banks that already own the country and moguls decrying regulation as un-American, the re-contextualization of the childhood symbol of success and wealth almost needed no explanation.”


Besides the satirical nature of his works, the artist himself is a case-in-point of art world irony. As a sort of proof-of-concept figure, Alec Monopoly has faced derision in the art world, largely from critics, who question the integrity and artistic merit of his art. In a world where no PR is bad PR (to an extent), Alec Monopoly utilised his reputation as leverage to get himself involved with some of popular culture’s most notable figures.

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Alongside holding an ambassadorial role for Tag Heuer, the artist has created a live mural for Justin Bieber and can count Miley Cyrus, Adrien Brody and Philipp Plein as collectors. Gawker once defined his positioning as selling “dumb art to foolish people for large sums.” It could be, but the article’s writer certainly won’t have high-profile collectors like Alec Monopoly. Take from that what you will.


The old maxim, often falsely attributed and misquoted, stands true for Alec Monopoly: good artists copy, great artists steal. Why create a character, build an association with money, greed and riches and then promote said character until it becomes recognisable if he already exists? Yoink. There for the taking.

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As interesting as the Monopoly Man is Alec Monopoly, the man. His reaction from the art world needn’t be a surprise, he’s largely been an oxymoron for his decade and a bit of working. On the one hand, he’s an outsider of the art establishment, covering his face to retain a degree of anonymity for his unauthorized street work, whilst also jetting around the world and counting the Kardashians as friends.


With a resale market that remains fairly down to earth, the artist’s strength is the cult of personality fostered between himself and his character - a mystery that we all know, love and love to hate. 

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