In recent years, British street art has become synonymous with one name Banksy. The mysterious graffiti artist is well-known for his politically charged work, which combines dark humour, a satirical street voice and a distinctive stencil technique. His work has been found on streets walls, bridges and cities throughout the world. Here are ten reason why we think he and his work are still as cool and edgy as ever…
1. Banksy refuses to authenticate his graffiti, he believes his work belongs in the public domain and not in art galleries. Surprisingly even unauthenticated pieces of his graffiti cut out from their locations have sold for between £30,000 and £208,000 at auction.
2. Banksy has painted on everything from walls and trains to cows and pigs.
3. His identity still remains a mystery. He has been named as Robin Gunningham, Robert and Robin Banks and says 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.”
4. One of the few people to have been granted a face-to-face interview with the artist is The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone. Bansky described to him the rush he gets from graffiti: “The feeling you get when you sit at home on the sofa at the end of that, having a fag and thinking there’s no way they’re going to rumble me, it’s amazing… better than sex, better than drugs, the buzz.” (The Guardian, 2003)
5. His use of stencil to create art quickly came to him while hiding from British Transport Police under a dumper truck. He had been trying to spray the words “late again” in silver bubble letters on the side of a passenger train. Realising he needed to reduce his painting time to avoid getting caught in future, he spotted the stencilled plate on the underside of the truck and hit upon what was soon to become his signature style.
6. In October 2007, Hollywood couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt spent $2 million on work by Banksy at an exhibition in London.
7. Banky’s ‘Discount Soup Can’ is a painting of a Tesco value cream of tomato soup can – a response to Andy Warhol’s paintings of Campell’s soup cans. He surreptitiously hung it in the Musuem of Modern Art, New York where it remained for six days before it was removed. He said: “A sea of people walked up, stared and moved on looking confused and slightly cheated. I felt like a true modern artist.” It is rumoured that MOMA kept the piece for its permanent collection. (Wall and Piece, Century, 2006)
8. In his 2006 book “Wall and Piece,” Bansky offers some advice for young graffiti artist including “A regular can of paint will give you up to 50 A4 sized stencils. This means you can become incredibly famous/unpopular is a small town virtually overnight for approximately ten pounds.”
9. When asked why he chose Los Angeles for his first major stateside exhibition he replied: “Hollywood is a town where they honour their heroes by writing their names on the pavement to be walked on by fat people and peed on by dogs. It seemed like a great place to come and be ambitious.”
10. Banksy designed the cover of the Blur album, Think Tank. The album’s cover art sold at auction for £62,400.
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Katie Treggiden, Guest Editor
View all posts by Katie Treggiden, Guest Editor