Banksy

Kai Eriksson

Posted on May 04 2018

  • A graffiti artist, one of the world’s most famous street artist
  • Political activist
  • Film director
  • Britain-based, internationally known

 

 

1990-94

Starts his career in Bristol, England

Is part of Bristol underground scene, where he meets photographer Steve Lazarides, who became his agent

1997

First known wall mural in Bristol called The Mild Mild West

2000

Changes his technique from freehand to stenciling

Paints a famous Gorilla in a Pink Mask in Eastville, England

2003

Holds an exhibition Turf War where he paints on living animals and portrays famous paintings he had subverted with modern elements such as litter and shopping trolleys

2005

Travels to Palestine to paint his famous 9 graffiti in Bethlehem and in the Separation Wall

2006

Places a doll dressed as a Guantanamo Bay detainment camp prisoner in a roller coaster in Disneyland in California

Holds an exhibition Barely Legal with a painted living elephant in the room

2010

Produces the film Exit Through The Gift Shop which is published at Sundance film festival

2012

Comments on the London 2012 Olympic games security measures by painting an athlete throwing a missile instead of a javelin

2016

    Paints graffiti on a primary school wall in Bristol and told the school pupils they should “feel free to add stuff”

    2018

    Played one of the most audacious pranks in art history, arranging for one of his best-known works - Girl With Balloon - to self-destruct after being sold in an auction at Sotheby’s for just over £1m

     

    (Some of the years are estimations since no one is known to have kept full record of Banksy’s work, except maybe he himself.)

     

    IDENTITY


    Assumedly male

    Many guesses, some based on sightings, correlations between events and geographic profiling

     

    Guesses:

     

    • Robert Cunningham from Bristol. Guess based on: Geographic profiling by criminologists at London’s Queen Mary University

    • Robert Del Naja, the frontman of electronic music band Massive Attack. Guess based on: Journalist Craig Williams claims he has identified a correlation between the tour route of Massive Attack and Banksy graffiti

    • A team led by a woman. Guess based on: Canadian media artist Chris Healey claims in HBO documentary Banksy Does New York that a woman appearing in Exit Through The Gift shop is Banksy

    • King Robbo, another graffiti artist. Guess based on: Banksy painted over a Robbo artwork, and according to graffiti etiquette it is only allowed to paint over your own work

     

     

     

    WHAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW YET

     

    • He smuggled pieces of his art into four New York City’s art galleries, Louvre and London’s Tate Gallery and still did not get caught
    • His peace promoting graffiti on the eight meters high wall between Israel and Palestine are a famous tourist destination
    • Celebrities buy his work for exceedingly high value
    • He has a competitor OMAR NYC, who has been known to destroy Banksy’s work
    • Banksy has been called “an artist Robin Hood”

     

     

    BANKSY’S ART

     

    STYLE

    • Satirical
    • Ironic
    • Witty
    • Intelligent
    • Political
    • Dark humor

     

    TECHNIQUE

    • Early work done with freehand technique
    • Changed to stenciling technique
    Why? Stenciling is easier and faster compared to freehand technique
     
    How? Claims that he was inspired by a stenciled serial number he saw when he was hiding from police under a truck
      • Combines pictures with humorous and political slogans
      • Has maintained a historical spirit of political stencilling
      • What is special, he paints on public, visible surfaces

         

        THEMES

         

        • Monarchy
        • Capitalism
        • Consumerism
        • Establishment
        • Imperialism
        • Violence
        • Iraqi war
        • Farm animals
        • Arab-Israeli conflict
        • Liberty
        • Art itself

             

            IMPACT

             

            • Worldwide political commentary on political and societal issues through his work
            • Points towards problems and taboos in our societies
            • Raises discussion
            • Empowers and gives voice to the voiceless
            • Has so far succeeded in hiding his identity

             

             

            CRITICISM

             

            • Is painting graffiti on public places vandalism? Or a piece of art? 

            For example, in Bristol police wanted to remove a questionable graffiti from a wall of a doctors’ clinic, however, the doctors asked them to let it stay

            • Does he really have something to say or is his work obvious repetition of criticism against capitalistic consumer culture, directed for middle-class hipster audience?

            • Is graffiti art actual art or is it rather ruining the reputation of true art?
            • If Banksy really wants to stay anonymous why does he keep tagging his work?
            • Banksy does not offer solutions, only points out problems. It is questioned whether his art has means for causing any significant change.

             

             

            DIIPLE RECOMMENDS


              FILMS

              • Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010)

               

              BOOKS

              • You Are an Acceptable level of Thread (2012), published by Carpet Bombing Culture
              • Wall and Piece (2005), published by Random House
              • Existentialism (2001), published by Weapons of Mass Distraction

               

              ARTWORKS

              • Spy Booth (2014, on listed property in Cheltemham, England)
              Why? Witty and funny way to comment on the Global Surveillance Disclosures by Edward Snowden in 2013

               

              • Girl with Red Balloon
              Why? One of his most well-known graffiti

               

              • Mobile Lovers (2014, by a youth club in Bristol)
              Why? Humorous criticism to digitalization

               

              • Armored Dove of Peace and his other graffiti on the Israel-Palestine wall (2005, Palestine Heritage Centre & Separation Wall, Bethlehem, Palestine)
              Why? Some of his most provocative, politically influential graffiti

               

              • The Son of a Migrant from Syria (2015, Calais, France)
              Why? Banksy places Steve Job as a migrant and draws attention to the human side of the refugee crises
               

               

              Selected Internet resources

               

               

               

              SEE THIS STUDY AS AN INFOGRAPHIC:

               

               

               

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