BANKSY

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

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
  • 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 stenciling
  • What is special, he paints on public, visible surfaces

THEMES

Banksy comments and criticizes
politically sensitive topics:

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

EFFECT AND
MEANINGFULLNESS:

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

DILEMMAS

AND 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 Banksky really wants to stay anonymous why does he keep tagging his work?
  • Banksky does not offer solutions, only points out problems. It is questioned whether his art has means for causing any significant change.

TIMELINE

1990-1994

  • Started his career in Bristol, England
  • Was part of Bristol underground scene, where he met photographer Steve Lazarides, who became his agent

1997

  • First known wall mural in Bristol called The Mild Mild West

2000

  • Painted a famous Gorilla in a Pink Mask in Eastville, England
  • Changed his technique from freehand to stenciling

2003

  • Held an exhibition Turf War where he painted on living animals and portrayed famous paintings he had subverted with modern elements such as litter and shopping trolleys

2005

  • Travelled to Palestine to paint his famous 9 graffiti in Betlehem and in the Separation Wall

2006

  • Placed a doll dressed as a Guantanamo Bay detainment camp prisoner in a rollercoaster in Disneyland in California
  • Held an exhibition Barely Legal with a painted living elephant in the room

2010

  • Produced the film Exit Through The Gift Shop which was published at Sundance film festival

2012

  • Commented on the London 2012 Olympic games security measures by painting an athlete throwing a misile instead of a javelin

2016

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

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

PUBLICATIONS

Graffiti

  • Graffiti all over the world on public surfaces such as walls, fences, bridges etc.

Prints

  • Post cards and other prints of his most famous work

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

RECOMMENDED
WORKS

  • 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 digitalisation
  • Armored Dove of Peace and his other graffiti on the Israel-Palestine wall (2005, Palestine