Banksy, the Anonymous Street Artist
As one of the modern world’s most controversial street artist, Banksy has developed an entire art subculture. His work is one of the most easily identifiable and tends to have a profound impact on any location. For years his identity was largely unknown. He has worked with numerous types of street art media and his work often includes many powerful, often controversial images gaining an impressive viral status.
Banksy began his graffiti art lifestyle by admiring the works of Blek Le Rat a famous French guerilla artist and has been very active in the graffiti scene since the early 1990s. To begin with he was part of a graffiti crew in Bristol by the name of DryBreadZ crew or DBZ but soon after, he began to partner with Inkie, another notable graffiti street artist.
By 18, Banksy began to develop stencils in an effort to speed up his work after he had nearly being caught vandalizing public spaces by police. Now the most common form of street art Banksy uses are multi-layered stencils and spray-paint and includes anything found in the streets including street signs and the like. His artwork is often satirical and combines dark humor with graffiti and also spread messages across art, philosophy, and politics.
By the early 2000s, Banksy had moved to London, where he began to gain notoriety and eventually, he decided to travel to Palestine and the West Bank, where he stenciled nine images on the Bethlehem Wall which became an instant hit and virally exploded in the Internet.
At the same time, Banksy’s silkscreen prints and stencil paintings were raking in hundred of thousands of pounds at art auctions like Sotheby’s and Bonham’s of London. In 2010 Banksy became a successful author and filmmaker for the film “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”
In 2003, a tall, bearded figure in a dark overcoat, scarf and floppy hat walked into the famed art gallery, Tate Britain, clutching a large paper bag. Once inside he pulled out his own picture, an unsigned oil painting of a rural scene he had found in a London street market but across the canvas, which he had titled “Crimewatch UK Has Ruined the Countryside for All of Us”, he had stenciled blue-and-white police crime-scene tape.
Despite his success Banksy is still somewhat of an enigma; he refuses to be interviewed – in fact his last face-to-face interview took place in 2003. He keeps his identity carefully maintained. A world-renowned mystery man, he has quickly become one of the world’s greatest street artists. His organization, Pest Control, was set up to authenticate the real Banksy artwork, also protects him from prying outsiders.
Many people have questioned Banksy’s identity and there have been a number of people claim to be the famous artist. Most recently is a Bristol native by the name of Robin Gunninham. Impressively he has even managed to completely conceal his identity from his family and to this day no one has been able to definitively say who is behind the famous art. In fact, most of his fans don’t really want to know who he is and have loudly protested attempts to unmask him.
In Summer 2015, Banksy put together a temporary art project called Dismaland, a dystopian theme park built in the seaside resort town of Weston-super-Mare, in England. The park was a hit, it was the summer attraction with tourists traveling from all over the country, much less the world, to visit.
While the value of his art continues to increase many of his work exists only in memory, or photographs. In London alone out of the 52 previously documented examples of Banksy’s street art at least 40 works have disappeared altogether, whitewashed over or destroyed.