Arguably the most controversial street artist in the world, vandal and political activist Banksy, has advanced an entire art subculture devoted to his works. His identity remains unknown and anonymous, even after over 20 years of being involved with the graffiti scene. Banksy’s satirical artwork consists of several influential and often controversial images brimming with dark humour, executed with his distinctive stencilling technique. Banksy’s artwork has been displayed and conceived all over the world on streets, walls, bridges, in countries such as Australia, England, the United States, Israel, Jamaica, and even Canada. Recently, he spent an entire month glamorizing New York City with his street art, which captured the attention of thousands every day. Some of his most famous works include “Rage the Flower Thrower”(2005) and “Kissing Coppers”(2004).
Banksy’s work grew out of the Bristol underground scene as he played a part in the Bristol Graffiti crew named DryBreadZ. Soon after, he began to partner with Inkie, another notable Graffiti street artist. By the age of 18, he began to develop stencils after nearly being caught by the police. He discovered that stencils were a faster and more efficient tool for street art. His stencils illustrate humorous and striking images that are occasionally combined with slogans or catchphrases in order to convey a particular message. The concepts behind his artworks are frequently political relating to messages of anti-war, anti-capitalism and anti-establishment, with the subjects often being rats, policemen, soldiers, children and the elderly. The most common form of Banksy street art, prints, and paintings that are for sale are the stencils. These are often in the form of multi-layered stencils and/or combined with other media sources, such as spray-paint.
In 2010 Banksy branched out and became a successful author and filmmaker for the film “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” which was shown at Sundance Film Festival in Utah and nominated for an Academy Award. The film told the story of a French Immigrant in LA, and his obsession with Street Art. Banksy appeared in the movie as himself and befriended the character of the French Immigrant. In 2015, Banksy produced multiple murals in a refugee camp in Calais known as “The Jungle”. One of the murals depicted Steve Jobs as a migrant. Street art fanatics are consistently satisfied with every piece of art he delivers, nevertheless, he often leaves them wanting more. This tactic carries one’s curiosity to explore a completely new perspective or idea, leaving his artistic creations to inspire and influence other artists. In the Summer of 2015, Banksy organized a temporary art project called “Dismaland” which was a dystopian theme park built in Weston-Super-Mare, UK, that was devised to be a sinister twist on Disneyland, described by Banksy as a “family theme park unsuitable for children”. This artwork analysed the concept of consumerism and critiqued celebrity and pop culture.
Most recently, in 2018, one of Banksy’s works “Balloon Girl” was sold at an auction at Sotheby’s in London for 1.4 million UK pounds. However, soon after it was sold, an alarm sounded inside the frame and the canvas passed through a shredder that was hidden within the frame, shredding a portion of the artwork. Sotheby’s confirmed that the self-destruction of the work was a prank by Banksy himself. When disclosing his intentions, Banksy simply quoted Picasso, and declared that “ the urge to destroy is also a creative urge”. The shredded work has now been named “Love is in the Bin”.
The notion of the “Banksy Effect” has been developed as a result of Banksy’s artistic innovation, and it alludes to the artist’s ability to turn outsider art into the cultural mainstream. Due to the fact that Graffiti still remains illegal, his work persists to raise critical questions in the social sphere about the lines and boundaries between public art and vandalism.
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