You are in Artists > Banksy
Place(s) of work: London (gb)
The anonymous mascot of today's street art movement, Banksy rose to international fame as a self-proclaimed "art terrorist," creating mordant stencil-based works that have broadcast their social and political critiques from walls around the world. Because Banksy has kept his identity closely guarded, little is known about his biography other than that he was born in 1974 or 1978 in Yate, a town near Bristol, England. (There have been plenty of conjectures about his background in the media, however--see below.)
What is certain is that in the early 1990s Banksy's art, then freehand graffiti pieces, began turning up on train cars and city walls around Bristol. Heavily influenced by French street artist Blek Le Rat, Banksy began using stencils toward the end of that decade, depicting satirical subject matter that ranged from two policemen kissing to flower-hurling anarchists to his trademark black-and-white stenciled rats (which, as in Blek Le Rat's work, are meant to function as teasing anagrams for "art"). Banksy is often quoted calling graffiti the highest form of artistic endeavor and the one with the most potential to effect change. "Graffiti has more chance of meaning something or changing stuff than anything indoors," he has said. "Graffiti has been used to start revolutions, stop wars, and generally is the voice of people who aren't listened to."
A brief stint in commercial art, including designing the cover art for Blur's 2003 album "Think Tank," turned Banksy off of that practice--forever, he has said--but served to gain the attention of the art world, leading to his first gallery show outside of England, at L.A.'s 33 1/3 Gallery in 2002. A series of art pranks then gained the artist a new degree of notoriety: in 2003 he surreptitiously installed one of his own paintings on the walls of the Tate, an infiltration that was only discovered when the work--a country scene crisscrossed with police tape--fell to the floor hours later; in 2004 he pulled off a similar stunt at the Louvre. In 2006 he snuck into British record stores and planted 500 doctored copies of Paris Hilton's debut album, with topless photos of the socialite, remixed music, and such new song titles as "What Am I For?" In the years to follow, Banksy's commercial success grew exponentially, with his stencil works--sometimes still attached to a wall--being sold at auction for exorbitant sums; Angelina Jolie and Christina Aguilera are now among his many celebrity collectors. In an attempt to make his work even more accessible and to preserve the otherwise vulnerable outdoor pieces, photographs of his art have been compiled into sought-after books, the most recent being Wall and Piece (2005).
Since capturing the public eye, Banksy taken his acid commentary around the world, stenciling works on the wall separating Israel from Palestine--including trompe l'oeil pieces depicting beautiful beaches visible through holes in the wall--and to post-Katrina New Orleans. "The possibility I find exciting," Banksy explained of his work in Israel, "is you could turn the world's most invasive and degrading structure into the world's longest gallery of free speech and bad art." These radical gestures have earned Banksy a following among the public as well as among many of his fellow street artists. Shepard Fairey, for instance, has called Banksy "the most important living artist in the world."
Banksy's speedy rise to international commercial success has been at the heart of much criticism rallied against him, with many attributing the phenomenon to slick promotion. “I think there’s some wit in Banksy’s work, some cleverness—and a massive bucket of hot steaming hype,” wrote Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones. As the most famous street artist working today, Banksy also embodies the tension between the "authentic" practice of his peers who work illegally on urban walls and the more market-driven approach of those who aim for gallery success. But despite this criticism, Banksy has continued to branch into the museum and gallery world, expanding into new mediums as well. In 2008 he set up a pet-store-themed show at a New York gallery that featured animatronic hot dogs and chicken nuggets in cages; in 2009 he took over his home town's Bristol Museum with a show featuring paintings, other animated sculptures, and large-scale installations. Whether Banksy's work has the staying power to survive beyond the novelty of his provocations remains to be seen, but either way he is unquestionably one of the most talked-about artists working today.
Watch a video of Banksy in Palestine:
Watch a news clip about Banksy's works at a New York Gallery:
Take a video tour of Banksy's 2008 "Village Pet Store And Charcoal Grill" show in New York:
Watch a "trailer" for Banksy's 2009 show at the Bristol Museum:(read less)
Techniques & Media: Installation, Mixed Media, Mural Art, Painting, Sculpture
Inspirations & Key Themes: Anti-capitalist, Anti-establishment, Anti-war, protest, Satire, The Situationist International, Surrealism
Influenced : HuskMitNavn (RememberMyName)
Influenced by : Blek le Rat