Discover art for sale. Buy and sell prints & editions online by Street & Urban artist Invader. The unidentified artist seeks to 'occupy' cities across the globe with his pixilated tile mosaics.
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Self described ‘Unidentified Free Artist,’ the anonymous French street artist Invader is internationally known for his pixelated tile mosaics. The artist describes himself as an ‘Unidentified Free Artist,’ concealing his identity with a pseudonym and always appearing behind a mask. Born in France, Invader’s pixelated tile mosaics have been installed in cities across the world.
Born in Paris, France in 1969, Invader adopted his name from the 1978 arcade game Space Invaders. The artist’s identity remains unknown, and nobody has ever seen his face. He claims that ‘as such, I can visit my own exhibitions without any visitors knowing who I really am even if I stand a few steps away from them.’ Invader is a graduate from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and has pursued his famous Space Invaders project in Paris and in cities across the world since the 90s.
Invader’s first mosaic installation appeared near the Place de la Bastille in Paris in 1996, but it was not until 1998 that the Space Invaders project began. The first ‘invasion’ appeared as a pixelated character from the 1978 Atari game Space Invaders, made from small, ceramic, square tiles, and was inserted into a street wall in Paris. It is now covered by a coat of paint and is impossible to find today.
The artist describes the Space Invaders as ‘the perfect icons of our time, a time where digital technologies are the heartbeat of our world.’ Soon after this first installation, Invader began his ‘invasion waves’ across the globe and went on to ‘occupy’ 31 cities throughout France and 65 cities in over 30 countries.
‘Invading’ cities worldwide, the Space Invaders project has come to be one of the most widely recognised street art stunts in art history. With his success, Invader has expanded his practice to take place in many unusual places. One Space Invader mosaic can be found under the sea at the bottom of Cauncun Bay, and another in the International Space Station, at 248 miles altitude.
Since 2004, the artist has created a series of works for indoor display using Rubik’s Cubes, that he refers to as ‘Rubikcubism.’ Invader has held solo exhibitions in France, the USA, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia.
One of Invader’s most famous stunts took place early on in his career, on New Year’s Eve in 1999, placing a mosaic on the D of the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles to mark ‘the Y2K bug.’ Since then, Invader has developed his output from the original motif of the Space Invader into new icons inspired by other 8-bit video games like Pac-man, as well as figures like the Pink Panther, Spider-Man and Popeye.
The Space Invaders project is well-documented, and an online map of the location of his works entitled ‘World Invasion’ can be found on the artist’s website. Originally documented on paper with city maps and notebooks, today highly sought after on the market, Invader now has created a digital database to archive every piece of his production.
A key influence on Invader’s practice is the concept of the ‘ready-made’ that stems from the Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp. Invader brings the notion of the ‘ready-made’ into contemporary public spaces by lifting the Space Invader motif directly from the developer Taito’s video game and turning it into street art.
Invader has explained that Taito have contacted him throughout his career without facing issues around the use of their image, claiming that ‘I work with them, not against them.’
Primarily using ‘guerrilla’ tactics to create his Space Invader works, the artist targets densely populated cities throughout the world, scouting highly visible and historically important locations to install his mosaics. Invader aims to display 20 to 50 mosaics in every city he ‘invades,’ with some locations more prolific than others. Depending on the placement and success of each work, Invader awards ‘points’ to each tiled piece, each city ranked by its total score. ‘This,’ Invader explained in 2011, ‘is the most addictive game I have ever played.’
Invader works during the night to maintain his anonymity, and because he often installs his murals without permission. Each mosaic is made from weather-resistant tiles, the artist describing the tiles as the ‘perfect material’ to materialise the pixelated effect of video games onto public spaces. The installation process, including scouting, recording, and mapping locations, usually lasts at least one week.
Invader has remained anonymous throughout his entire career and little is known of his personal life and biography. Notoriously, he has been arrested several times for his public installations and has even been banned from certain countries that he has ‘invaded.’ He was arrested in 2011 at Little Tokyo’s building in Los Angeles, before MOCA gallery’s Art In The Streets exhibition, where his work appeared.
The artist has featured in the acclaimed Banksy documentary 'Exit Through The Gift Shop,' claiming to be the cousin of the film’s protagonist Thierry Guetta, aka Mr. Brainwash.
Invader’s 2005 Rubik’s Mona Lisa, created from 330 Rubik’s Cubes, shattered estimates in 2020 when it was sold in Paris for 480,200 euros. Not only did this quadruple the estimated price, but it more than doubled the artist’s own sale record of Hong Kong Fou Fou, le roi du Kung Fu, sold in 2015.
As a street artist creating works for public spaces, Invader’s artist output both works with and against the market. Invader’s limited-edition prints sell well on the secondary art market and are notably accessible to a large audience of collectors.
Image © Sotheby's / Tk_119 © Invader 2014
A visual tribute to iconic Japanese manga series Astro Boy, Tk_119 (2014) blew its sale estimate out of the park at Sotheby’s New York in November 2019, realising a total of US$1,220,000. The work by Parisian street artist and king of the mosaic, Invader, constitutes an instantly-recognisable re-appropriation of popular visual culture that makes use of the artist’s signature material: the humble tile.
A graduate of the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Invader is known for placing his works in situ. A version of this particular work once adorned the underside of a railway bridge in the Japanese capital, Tokyo.
Image © Artcurial / Rubik Space © Invader 2005
Comprising 391 segments of Rubik’s Cubes, Rubik Space (2005) is one of Invader’s most significant mosaics. First exhibited in Spring 2005 at the exhibition Rubik Space, held at Galerie Patricia Dorfmann in Paris’s 4th arrondissement, it is the second work by the artist involving the use of the Rubik’s Cube – an iconic 1980s puzzle game well-known across the world for its 54 brightly-coloured squares.
With a sale estimate located between €400,000 and €600,000, the piece – which the artist describes as a ‘tableau-object’ or ‘object painting’ – realised €492,600 at Artcurial, Paris in December of 2020.
Image © Artcurial / Rubik Mona Lisa (Series Rubik Masterpiece) © Invader 2005
Reminiscent of Jeff Koons’s artful interventions in the annals of art history, Rubik Mona Lisa sees street artist Invader turn his hand to a veritable icon of the Italian Renaissance: Leonardo da Vinci’s internationally-recognisable painting, the Mona Lisa.
Obfuscating the surface of the revered painting only slightly, the work is one of Invader’s more complex pieces. Comprising an assemblage of tiles taken from the similarly iconic 1980s puzzle, the Rubik’s Cube, the work exceeded its sale estimate of €120,000-€150,000, realising a total of €480,000 in February 2020 at Artcurial auction house in the artist’s native Paris.
Image © Artcurial / Rubik Dalai-lama © Invader 2008