Through out this process my thoughts and views on whether graffiti is art or vandalism when related to Banksy has definitely gone through its ups and downs. Some days after reading certain sources I was convinced that Banksy was just a vandal. Then as I got toward the end of my research process I discovered that the work he creates is also considered art. I have concluded through this intellectual journey that Banksy is both, a vandal and an artist. Of course, I ran into some articles that are convinced that Banksy is a vandal and he should be stopped. But what I found most of the time is that those articles haven’t done background research on what it means to be an artist. I think it is so easy to say that Banksy is a vandal because he has committed vandalism but it’s more difficult to say that Banksy is an artist too without doing some research. Any further research I do on this topic would consist of keeping an eye out for new Banksy pieces and exploring them within my own mind to try and find a deeper meaning, or understand the cause that he is trying to help. I fully intend to keep up with the fascinating art Banksy preforms on and off the streets.
Ellsworth-Jones, Will. "History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian." History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian. Smithsonian Magazine, Feb. 2013. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
McGoldrick, Stacy K. "Vandalism." Encyclopedia of Social Problems. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2008. pg. 992-93. Credo Reference. Web. 14 April 2014.
Parcell, Charles. "Hey Banksy, Graffiti Is Vandalism Not Art." The Sydney Morning Herald. The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 May 2010. Web. 11 Apr. 2014.
"Graffiti: Art or Vandalism?" YouTube. Ed. Michael Pell. Sunrise Weekend Update, 27 Oct. 2012. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
"Graffiti: Art or Vandalism?" YouTube. Ed. Ben Tracey. CBS Evening News, 23 Apr. 2011. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
DeWitte, Debra and Larmann, Ralph and Sheilds, Kathryn. Gateway to Art:Understanding the Visual Arts. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2011. pg. 26-43. Print.
Banksy. Banksy Girl and Heart Balloon. Digital image. Flickr. Flickr, 2004. Web. 2014.
Rothko, Mark. "$72.8m Mark Rothko’s Painting Has Gone to Qatar." $72.8m Mark Rothkos Painting Has Gone to Qatar. Bella Belarus, 2007. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.
"5 POINTZ | The Institute of Higher Burning." 5 POINTZ. 5Pointz, 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.
Banksy has become an iconic figure in the UK and has transgressed all geographical boundaries. His anonymous, satirical and provocative art makes him the most controversial street artist in the World.
In this post, we have compiled information from several sources, to provide on overview of his life and work. Click/tap on the menu below to jump to a specific section:
TECHNIQUE | IDENTITY | BIBLIOGRAPHY | GRAFFITI LOCATIONS | THE SIMPSONS COUCH GAG | HOW TO MAKE A BANKSY | SHOP | THE WALLED OFF HOTEL
Banksy is an anonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist and film director of unverified identity. Their satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique. Banksy’s works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world. Banksy’s work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians.
Banksy started as a freehand graffiti artist 1992–1994 as one of Bristol’s DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), write Kato and Tes. He was inspired by local artists and his work was part of the larger Bristol underground scene. From the start, he used stencils as elements of his freehand pieces, too. By 2000 he had turned to the art of stencilling after realising how much less time it took to complete a “piece.” He claims he changed to stencilling whilst he was hiding from the police under a train carriage when he noticed the stencilled serial number and employing this technique soon became more widely noticed for his art around Bristol and London.
Banksy’s stencils feature striking and humorous images occasionally combined with slogans. The message is usually anti-war, anti-capitalist or anti-establishment. Subjects include rats, monkeys, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly.
In late 2000, on a trip to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, he met up with the Gen-X pastellist, visual activist, and recluse James DeWeaver in Byron Bay, where he stenciled a parachuting rat with clothes pin on nose above a toilet at the Arts Factory Lodge. This stencil can no longer be located. He also makes stickers (the Neighbourhood Watch subvert) and sculpture (the murdered phonebox), and was responsible for the cover art of Blur’s 2003 album Think Tank.
- On 19 July 2002, Banksy’s first Los Angeles show debuted at 33 1/3 Gallery, a small Silverlake venue owned by Frank Sosa. The show, entitled Existencilism, was curated by 33 1/3 Gallery, Malathion, Funk Lazy Promotions, and B+.
- In 2003 in a show called “Turf War”, held in a warehouse, Banksy painted on animals. Although the RSPCA declared the conditions suitable, an animal rights activist chained herself to the railings in protest. He later moved on to producing subverted paintings; one example is Monet’s Water Lily Pond, adapted to include urban detritus such as litter and a shopping trolley floating in its reflective waters; another is Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, redrawn to show that the characters are looking at a British football hooligan, dressed only in his Union Flag underpants, who has just thrown an object through the glass window of the cafe. These oil paintings were shown at a twelve day exhibition in Westbourne Grove, London in 2005.
- In August 2004, Banksy produced a quantity of spoof British £10 notes substituting the picture of the Queen’s head with Princess Diana’s head and changing the text “Bank of England” to “Banksy of England.” Someone threw a large wad of these into a crowd at Notting Hill Carnival that year, which some recipients then tried to spend in local shops. These notes were also given with invitations to a picturesonwalls.com Santas Ghetto exhibition. The individual notes have since been selling on eBay for about £200 each. A Limited run of 50 signed posters containing 10 uncut notes were also produced and sold by pictures on walls for £100 each to commemorate the death of Princess Diana. One of these sold in October 2007 at Bonhams auction house in London for £24,000.
- Banksy held an exhibition called Barely Legal, billed as a “three day vandalised warehouse extravaganza” in Los Angeles, on the weekend of 16 September. The exhibition featured a live “elephant in a room”, painted in a pink and gold floral wallpaper pattern.
- After Christina Aguilera bought an original of Queen Victoria as a lesbian and two prints for £25,000, on 19 October 2006 a set of Kate Moss paintings sold in Sotheby’s London for £50,400, setting an auction record for Banksy’s work. The six silk-screen prints, featuring the model painted in the style of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe pictures, sold for five times their estimated value. His stencil of a green Mona Lisa with real paint dripping from her eyes sold for £57,600 at the same auction.
- In December, journalist Max Foster coined the phrase, “the Banksy Effect”, to illustrate how interest in other street artists was growing on the back of Banksy’s success.
- On 7 February 2007, Sotheby’s auction house in London auctioned three works, reaching the highest ever price for a Banksy work at auction: over £102,000 for his Bombing Middle England. Two of his other graffiti works, Balloon Girl and Bomb Hugger, sold for £37,200 and £31,200 respectively, which were well above their estimated prices. The following day’s auction saw a further three Banksy works reach soaring prices. Ballerina With Action Man Parts reached £96,000; Glory sold for £72,000; Untitled (2004) sold for £33,600 – all prices being significantly above estimated values. To coincide with the second day of auctions, Banksy updated his website with a new image of an auction house scene showing people bidding on a picture that said, “I Can’t Believe You Morons Actually Buy This Shit.”
- In February 2007, the owners of a house with a Banksy mural on the side in Bristol decided to sell the house through Red Propeller art gallery after offers fell through because the prospective buyers wanted to remove the mural. It is listed as a mural which comes with a house attached.
- In April 2007, Transport for London painted over Banksy’s iconic image of a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta clutching bananas instead of guns. Although the image was very popular, Transport for London claimed that the “graffiti” created a general atmosphere of neglect and social decay which in turn encourages crime.
- On 27 April 2007, a new record high for the sale of Banksy’s work was set with the auction of the work ‘Space Girl & Bird’ fetching £288,000 (US$576,000), around 20 times the estimate at Bonhams of London. On 21 May 2007 Banksy gained the award for Art’s Greatest living Briton. Banksy, as expected, did not turn up to collect his award, and continued with his notoriously anonymous status.
- On 4 June 2007, it was reported that Banksy’s The Drinker had been stolen.
- In October 2007, most of his works offered for sale at Bonhams auction house in London sold for more than twice their reserve price.
- Banksy made a tribute art piece over his famous Pulp Fiction piece. The tribute was for 19-year-old British graffiti artist OZONE, who was hit by an underground train in Barking, East London, along with fellow artist WIZE, on 12 January 2007. The piece was of an angel wearing a bullet-proof vest, holding a skull. He also wrote a note on his website, saying:
“The last time I hit this spot I painted a crap picture of two men in banana costumes waving hand guns. A few weeks later a writer called Ozone completely dogged it and then wrote ‘If it’s better next time I’ll leave it’ in the bottom corner.
When we lost Ozone we lost a fearless graffiti writer and as it turns out a pretty perceptive art critic.
Ozone – rest in peace“.
- Banksy has published a “manifesto” on his website. The text of the manifesto is credited as the diary entry of one Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin, DSO, which is exhibited in the Imperial War Museum. It describes how a shipment of lipstick to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp immediately after its liberation at the end of World War II helped the internees regain their humanity. However, as of 18 January 2008, Banksy’s Manifesto has been substituted with Graffiti Heroes #03 that describes Peter Chappell’s graffiti quest of the 1970s that worked to free George Davis of his imprisonment.
- A small number of Banksy’s works can be seen in the movie Children of Men, including a stenciled image of two policemen kissing and another stencil of a child looking down a shop.
- In the 2007 film Shoot ‘Em Up starring Clive Owen, Banksy’s tag can be seen on a dumpster in the film’s credits.
- Banksy, who deals mostly with Lazarides Gallery in London, claims that the exhibition at Vanina Holasek Gallery in New York (his first major exhibition in that city) is unauthorized. The show featured 62 of his paintings and prints.
- Over the weekend 3–5 May in London, Banksy hosted an exhibition called The Cans Festival. It was situated on Leake Street, a road tunnel formerly used by Eurostar underneath London Waterloo station. Graffiti artists with stencils were invited to join in and paint their own artwork, as long as it didn’t cover anyone else’s. Artists included Blek le Rat, Broken Crow, C215, Cartrain, Dolk, Dotmasters, J.Glover, Eine, Eelus, Hero, Pure evil, Jef Aérosol and Tom Civil.
- In March 2008, a new graffiti appeared in Essex Road, Islington. It was later called “Tesco Generation”. depicts two children pledging allegiance to supermarket giant Tesco.
- In late August 2008, marking the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the associated levee failure disaster, Banksy produced a series of works in New Orleans, Louisiana, mostly on buildings derelict since the disaster.
- A stencil painting attributed to Banksy appeared at a vacant petrol station in the Ensley neighbourhood of Birmingham, Alabama on August 29 as Hurricane Gustav approached the New Orleans area. The painting depicting a hooded member of the Ku Klux Klan hanging from a noose was quickly covered with black spray paint and later removed altogether.
- His first official exhibition in New York, the “Village Pet Store And Charcoal Grill,” opened October 5, 2008. The animatronic pets in the store window include a mother hen watching over her baby Chicken McNuggets as they peck at a barbecue sauce packet, and a rabbit putting makeup on in a mirror.
- The Westminster City Council stated in October 2008 that the work “One Nation Under CCTV”, painted in April 2008 will be painted over as it is graffiti. The council says it will remove any graffiti, regardless of the reputation of its creator, and specifically stated that Banksy has no more right to paint graffiti than a child. The work was painted over in April 2009.
- In December 2008 a Banksy image of a diver in a duffle coat in Melbourne Australia was vandalised. The image was protected by a sheet of clear perspex, however silver paint was poured behind the protective sheet and then tagged with the words “Banksy woz ere”. It is thought the image has been destroyed.
- May 2009, parts company with agent Steve Lazarides. Announces Pest Control the handling service who act on his behalf will be the only point of sale for new works.
- On June 13 2009, the Banksy UK Summer show opened at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, featuring more than 100 works of art, including animatronics and installations; it is his largest exhibition yet, featuring 78 new works. Reaction to the show was positive, with expectations that large numbers of visitors would come to Bristol to see it.
The world premiere of the film Exit Through the Gift Shop occurred at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on 24 January. Bansky created 10 street artworks around Park City and Salt Lake City to tie in with the screening. In February, The Whitehouse public house in Liverpool, England, was sold for £114,000 at auction. The side of the building has an image of a giant rat by Banksy.
In March 2010, the work “Forgive Us Our Trespassing” was displayed at the London Bridge in conjunction with Art Below an arts company that put on art shows on the London Underground. The work was censored by the Transport for London (TfL), forbidding display of the work with its halo, because of the prevalence of graffiti in the underground. It was displayed without the halo over the boy’s head, but after a few days the halo was repainted by a graffitist, so the TfL disposed of the poster. This decline went through the press and several articles were published remarking on the progress of the poster.
In April, to coincide with the premiere of Exit Through the Gift Shop in San Francisco, five of Banksy’s works appeared in various parts of the city. Banksy reportedly paid a San Francisco Chinatown building owner $50 for the use of their wall for one of their stencils. In May 2010, seven new Banksy works of art appeared in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, though most have been subsequently painted over or removed.
In May, to coincide with the premiere of Exit Through the Gift Shop in Royal Oak, Banksy visited the Detroit area and left their mark in several places in Detroit and Warren. Shortly after, their work depicting a little boy holding a can of red paint next to the words “I remember when all this was trees” was excavated by the 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios. They claim that they do not intend to sell the work but plan to preserve it and display it at their Detroit gallery. There was also an attempted removal of one of the Warren works known as “Diamond Girl”.
In late January 2011, Exit Through the Gift Shop was nominated for a 2010 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Banksy released a statement about the nomination, stating, “This is a big surprise… I don’t agree with the concept of award ceremonies, but I’m prepared to make an exception for the ones I’m nominated for. The last time there was a naked man covered in gold paint in my house, it was me.” Leading up to the Oscars, Banksy blanketed Los Angeles with street art. Many people speculated if Banksy would show up at the Oscars in disguise and make a surprise appearance if Banksy won the Oscar. Exit Through the Gift Shop did not win the award, which went to Inside Job. In early March 2011, Banksy responded to the Oscars with an artwork in Weston-super-Mare, UK, of a little girl holding the Oscar and pouting. Many people think that it is in reference to 15-month-old Lara, who dropped and damaged her father’s (The King’s Speech co-producer Simon Egan) Oscar statue.Exit Through the Gift Shop was broadcast on British public television station Channel 4 on 13 August 2011.
In May 2011 Banksy released a lithographic print which showed a smoking petrol bomb contained in a ‘Tesco Value’ bottle. This followed a long running campaign by locals against the opening of a Tesco Express supermarket in Banksy’s home city of Bristol. Violent clashes had taken place between police and demonstrators in the Stokes Croft area. Banksy produced the poster ostensibly to raise money for local groups in the Stokes Croft area and to raise money for the legal defence of those arrested during the riots. The posters were sold exclusively at the Bristol Anarchists Bookfair in Stokes Croft for £5 each.
In December, Banksy unveiled Cardinal Sin at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. The bust, which replaces a priest’s face with a “pixelated” effect, was a statement on the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.
In May Banksy’s Parachuting Rat, painted in Melbourne in the late 1990s, was accidentally destroyed by plumbers installing new pipes.
In July, prior to the 2012 Olympic Games Banksy posted photographs of paintings with an Olympic theme on their website but did not disclose their location.
On 18 February, BBC News reported that a recent Banksy mural, known as the Slave Labour mural portraying a young child sewing Union Flag bunting (created around the time of the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II) had been removed from the side of a Poundland store in Wood Green, north London, and soon appeared for sale in Fine Art Auctions Miami’s catalogue (a US auction site based in Florida). News of this has reportedly caused “lots of anger” in the local community and is considered by some to be a theft. Fine Art Auctions Miami has rejected claims of theft, saying it had signed a contract with a “well-known collector” and that “everything was above board”; despite this, the local Councillor for Wood Green is campaigning for the work’s return.
On 11 May, BBC News reports that the same Banksy mural is up for auction again in Covent Garden by the Sincura Group. The auction is scheduled to take place in June. It is expected to fetch up to £450,000. On 24 September, after over a year since Banksy’s previous piece, a new mural went up on his website along with the subtitle ‘Better Out Than In’.
On 1 October, Banksy began a one-month “show on the streets of New York [City]”, for which they opened a separate website and granted an interview to The Village Voice via their publicist.
A pop-up boutique of about 25 spray-art canvases appeared on Fifth Avenue near Central Park on 12 October. Tourists were able to buy Banksy art for just $60 each. In a note posted to his website, the artist wrote: “Please note this was a one-off. The stall will not be there again.” The BBC estimated that the street-stall art pieces could be worth as much as $31,000. The booth was manned by an unknown elderly man who went about four hours before making a sale, yawning and eating lunch as people strolled by without a second glance at the work. Banksy chronicled the surprise sale in a video posted to their website noting, “Yesterday I set up a stall in the park selling 100% authentic original signed Banksy canvases. For $60 each.” Two of the canvasses sold at a July 2014 auction for $214,000.
‘Banksy in Gaza’ clip
In February 2015 Banksy published a 2-minute video titled “Make this the year YOU discover a new destination” about their trip to Gaza Strip. During the visit they painted a few artworks including a kitten on the remains of a house destroyed by an Israeli air strike. (“I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website—but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens”) and a swing hanging off a watchtower. In a statement to The New York Times Banksy’s publicist said,
I don’t want to take sides. But when you see entire suburban neighbourhoods reduced to rubble with no hope of a future—what you’re really looking at is a vast outdoor recruitment centre for terrorists. And we should probably address this for all our sakes.
Banksy opened Dismaland, a large scale group show lampooning Disneyland on 21 August 2015 and permanently closed on 27 September 2015. The “theme park” was located in Weston-super-Mare, United Kingdom. According to the Dismaland website artists Damien Hirst and Jenny Holzer were represented in the show.
The Son of a Migrant from Syria
In December 2015, Banksy created several murals in the vicinity of Calais, France, including the so-called “Jungle” where migrants live as they attempt to enter the United Kingdom. One of the pieces, The Son of a Migrant from Syria, depicts Steve Jobs as a migrant.
Notable art pieces
In addition to his artwork, Banksy has claimed responsibility for a number of high profile art pieces, including the following:
- At London Zoo, he climbed into the penguin enclosure and painted “We’re bored of fish” in seven foot high letters.
- At Bristol Zoo, he left the message ‘I want out. This place is too cold. Keeper smells. Boring, boring, boring.’ in the elephant enclosure.
- In March 2005, he placed subverted artworks in the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
- He put up a subverted painting in London’s Tate Britain gallery.
- In May 2005 Banksy’s version of a primitive cave painting depicting a human figure hunting wildlife whilst pushing a shopping trolley was hung in gallery 49 of the British Museum, London. Upon discovery, they added it to their permanent collection.
- Banksy has sprayed “This is not a photo opportunity” on certain photograph spots.
- In August 2005, Banksy painted nine images on the Israeli West Bank barrier, including an image of a ladder going up and over the wall and an image of children digging a hole through the wall.
- In April 2006, Banksy created a sculpture based on a crumpled red phone box with a pickaxe in its side, apparently bleeding, and placed it in a street in Soho, London. It was later removed by Westminster Council. BT released a press release, which said: “This is a stunning visual comment on BT’s transformation from an old-fashioned telecommunications company into a modern communications services provider.”
- In June 2006, Banksy created an image of a naked man hanging out of a bedroom window on a wall visible from Park Street in central Bristol. The image sparked some controversy, with the Bristol City Council leaving it up to the public to decide whether it should stay or go. After an internet discussion in which 97% (all but 6 people) supported the stencil, the city council decided it would be left on the building.
- In August/September 2006, Banksy replaced up to 500 copies of Paris Hilton’s debut CD, Paris, in 48 different UK record stores with his own cover art and remixes by Danger Mouse. Music tracks were given titles such as “Why am I Famous?”, “What Have I Done?” and “What Am I For?”. Several copies of the CD were purchased by the public before stores were able to remove them, some going on to be sold for as much as £750 on online auction websites such as eBay. The cover art depicted Paris Hilton digitally altered to appear topless. Other pictures feature her with a dog’s head replacing her own, and one of her stepping out of a luxury car edited to include a group of homeless people, which included the caption “90% of success is just showing up”.
- In September 2006, Banksy dressed an inflatable doll in the manner of a Guantanamo Bay detainment camp prisoner (orange jumpsuit, black hood, and handcuffs) and then placed the figure within the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California.
- The artist makes stickers (the Neighbourhood Watch subvert) and was responsible for the cover art of Blur’s 2003 album Think Tank.
- In September 2007, Banksy covered a wall in Portobello Road with a French artist painting graffiti of Banksy’s name.
- In July 2012, in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic games they created several pieces based upon this event. One included an image of an athlete throwing a missile instead of Javelin, evidently taking a poke at the Surface to Air missile sites positioned in the Stratford area to defend the games.
- In April 2014, Bansky created a piece in Cheltenham, near the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) headquarters, which depicts three men wearing sunglasses and using listening devices to “snoop” on a telephone box, evidently criticising the recent Global surveillance disclosures of 2013. This was only confirmed by Banksy as their work later in June 2014. This piece ‘disappeared’ on 20 August 2016 during renovations to the building it was on, and may have been destroyed.
- In June 2016, a 14ft painting of a child with a stick chasing a burning tyre was found in the Bridge Farm Primary School in Bristol with a letter from Banksy thanking the school for naming one of its houses after him. BBC News reported that a spokesman for Banksy confirmed that the artwork was genuine. In the letter, Banksy wrote that if the members of the school did not like the painting, they should add their own elements.
Asked about his technique, Banksy said:
“I use whatever it takes. Sometimes that just means drawing a moustache on a girl’s face on some billboard, sometimes that means sweating for days over an intricate drawing. Efficiency is the key.“
Stencils are traditionally hand drawn or printed onto sheets of acetate or card, before being cut out by hand. Because of the secretive nature of Banksy’s work and identity, it is uncertain what techniques he uses to generate the images in his stencils, though it is assumed he uses computers for some images due to the photocopy nature of much of his work.
He mentions in his book, Wall and Piece, that as he was starting to do graffiti that he was always too slow and was either caught or could never finish the art in the one sitting. So he devised a series of intricate stencils to minimise time and overlapping of the colour.
Below you can find an excellent video about how to create a Banksy from scratch.
Banksy’s real name is not, as is commonly believed and has been widely reported, Robert or Robin Banks. His year of birth has been given as 1975.
Simon Hattenstone from Guardian Unlimited is one of the very few people to have interviewed him face-to-face. Hattenstone describes him as “a cross of Jimmy Nail and British rapper Mike Skinner” and “a 28 year old male who showed up wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a silver tooth, silver chain, and one silver earring”.
Banksy’s parents think their son is a painter and decorator
In May 2007, an extensive article written by Lauren Collins of the New Yorker re-opened the Banksy-identity controversy citing a 2004 photograph of the artist that was taken in Jamaica during the Two-Culture Clash project and later published in The Evening Standard in 2004.
In October 2007, a story on the BBC website featured a photo allegedly taken by a passer-by in Bethnal Green, London, purporting to show Banksy at work with an assistant, scaffolding and a truck. The story confirms that Tower Hamlets Council in London has decided to treat all Banksy works as vandalism and remove them.
In July 2008, it was claimed by The Mail on Sunday that Banksy’s real name is Robin Gunningham.His agent has refused to confirm or deny these reports.
In May 2009, the Mail on Sunday once again speculated about Gunningham being Banksy after a ‘self-portrait’ of a rat holding a sign with the Gunningham shot on it was photographed in East London. This ‘new Banksy rat’ story was also picked up by the Times newspaper and the London Evening Standard.
In August 2016, Scottish journalist Craig Williams published an investigative piece in which he connected the timing of Banksy’s murals with the touring schedule of the trip-hop band Massive Attack. Williams put forward the suggestion that Banksy’s work could be the work of a collective, and that Banksy themselves may be Massive Attack’s frontman, Robert Del Naja.Del Naja had been a graffiti artist during the 1980s prior to forming the band and had previously been identified as a personal friend of Banksy.
Banksy himself states, on his website:
“I am unable to comment on who may or may not be banksy, but anyone described as being ‘good at drawing’ doesn’t sound like banksy to me.“
In 2004, Banksy walked into the Louvre in Paris and hung on a wall a picture he had painted resembling the Mona Lisa but with a yellow smiley face. Though the painting was hurriedly removed by the museum staff, it and its counterpart, temporarily on unknown display at the Tate Britain, were described by Banksy as ‘shortcuts’. He is quoted as saying:
“To actually [have to] go through the process of having a painting selected must be quite boring. It’s a lot more fun to go and put your own one up.“
Peter Gibson, a spokesperson for Keep Britain Tidy, asserts that Banksy’s work is simple vandalism, and Diane Shakespeare, an official for the same organization, was quoted as saying: “We are concerned that Banksy’s street art glorifies what is essentially vandalism”.
In June 2007 Banksy created a circle of plastic portable toilets, said to resemble Stonehenge at the Glastonbury Festival. As this was in the same field as the “sacred circle” it was felt by many to be inappropriate and his installation was itself vandalised before the festival even opened. However, the intention had always been for people to climb on and interact with it. The installation was nicknamed “Portaloo Sunset” and “Bog Henge” by Festival goers. Michael Eavis admitted he wasn’t fond of it, and the portaloos were removed before the 2008 festival.
Quotations by Banksy
“If you have a statue in the city centre, you could go past it every day on your way to school and never even notice it, right – but as soon as someone puts a traffic cone on its head, you’ve made your own sculpture. — from The Independent“
“The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists. Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little.“
“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.“
“Think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a sharp knife to it. “
“You paint a hundred chimpanzees and they call you a guerilla artist.“
Attribution: The section above (Biography) uses material from the Wikipedia article “Banksy”, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.
Banksy has self-published several books that contain pictures of his artworks and exhibitions:
We strongly recommend Wall and Piece, which contains images from previous books and new material. It provides a good overview of his life and thinking.
Current locations ^
Nowadays there are no a lot of original Banksys left, and most of them are quite damaged or covered. The following map shows the current locations in London.
Additionally, this article describes 124 of his artworks with locations, and this map shows more locations around the UK and Netherlands.
The Simpsons Couch Gag / Intro ^
In 2010 The Simpson presented the following couch gag directed by Banksy. It was an episode called “MoneyBart”. It was one of a set of elaborate intros handled by external artists.
How to make a Banksy? ^
The following video by James Farina explains Banksy’s technique showing a real example, which is the iconic “Flower Thrower” graffiti.
And this other video by Justin Odisho shows how to create a Banksy-style stencil graffiti out of any photo using Photoshop.
You can find plenty of stuff to buy online or all around the UK, especially in London. Most of the markets in the UK’s capital (Brick Lane, Camden Lock, Portobello Road, etc) offer a variety of Banksy’s works in the form of mugs, posters, canvases, coasters and more. You can also find all his books in the Bibliography section above.
The following are just a few items you can get online:
The Walled Off Hotel ^
Does he really have a hotel now? According to The Guardian and other media, Banksy has launched a hotel overlooking Bethlehem wall in Palestinian territory, in hope of bringing Israeli tourists – and dialogue – to West Bank city.
The Walled Off Hotel offers customised rooms by some of the world’s finest artists, including Banksy, Sami Musa and Dominque Petrin.
According to booking.com (where you can reserve rooms):
“It is the ultimate celebration of art and literature with views overlooking the controversial wall that separates Israel and Palestine. Guests can soak in the ingenious atmosphere of the hotel itself and the historic scenery that surrounds them.
Incredible displays of art and literature are rife at The Walled Off Hotel which offers a host of unique and innovative facilities. With its own Museum, Piano Bar, Gallery and Bookshop.
Each room is uniquely decorated and has it’s own private bathroom apart from the dormitory which has a bathroom to share.”
Banksy paints over the line between aesthetics and language, then stealthily repaints it in the unlikeliest of places. His works, whether he stencils them on the streets, sells them in exhibitions or hangs them in museums on the sly, are filled with wit and metaphors that transcend language barriers.