Banksy (B.1974 England)
Banksy is a graffiti artist from Bristol, UK, whose artwork has appeared throughout
London and other locations around the world. Despite this he carefully manages to
keep his real name from the mainstream media. However, many newspapers assert
that his real name is Robert or Robin Banks
Banksy, despite not calling himself an artist, has been considered by some as talented
in that respect; he uses his original street art form, often in combination with a
distinctive stencilling technique, to promote alternative aspects of politics from those
promoted by the mainstream media.
Some believe that his stencilled graffiti provides a voice for those living in urban
environments that could not otherwise express themselves, and that his work is
also something which improves the aesthetic quality of urban surroundings; many
others disagree, asserting that his work is simple vandalism (a claim made by at
least Peter Gibson, spokesperson for Keep Britain Tidy), or that his (apparently left
wing) beliefs are not shared by the majority of the inhabitants of the environments
that he graffitis. This political purpose behind his vandalism is reminiscent of the Ad
Jammers or subvertising movement, who deface corporate advertising to change the
intended message and hijack the advert.
Banksy does, however, also do paid work for charities (e.g., Greenpeace) as well
as demanding up to £25,000 for canvases. It has also been alleged and denied that
Banksy has done work with corporations such as Puma. This has led to him being
accused of being a sell-out and a careerist by other artists and activists.
Due to the shroud of secrecy surrounding his real identity and his subversive
character; Banksy has achieved somewhat of a cult following from some of the
younger age group within the stencilling community.
In 2004 the Space Hijackers gave out spoof vouchers outside a Banksy exhibition
to highlight the artist's ironic use of anti-capitalist and protest imagery while doing
work for corporations and art galleries. Another of Banksy's tricks involved hanging
a piece of his own art in London's Tate Modern, and as of March 2005, the New York
Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and
the American Museum of Natural History. In May 2005 Bansky's version of primitive
cave painting depicting a human figure hunting wildlife while pushing a shopping
cart was found hanging in the British Museum.
On 4 August 2005, the BBC reported that Banksy had painted 9 images on the
Palestinian side of the Israeli West Bank barrier, including an image of a ladder up
and over the wall and an image of children digging a hole through the wall.
Banksy has also self-published several books that contain photos of his work in various countries as well as some of his canvas work and exhibitions, accompanied by his own subversive and often witty writings. His first book, published in black and white, is ‘Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall Followed by the Full Colour Existentialism’. In 2004 he published his third book, ‘Cut it Out’, and 2005 saw the publication by ‘Random House of Wall and Piece’.
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