Banksy

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Banksy
Banksy art in Brick Lane, Bethnal Green, London, 2004
Born Unknown
Nationality British
Field Graffiti
Street art
Bristol underground scene
Sculpture
Social commentary
Awards Toronto Film Critics Association Awards – Best First Feature 2010
Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature
Stencil on the waterline of The Thekla, an entertainment boat in central Bristol – (wider view). The image of Death is based on a 19th century etching illustrating the pestilence of The Great Stink.[1]
Banksy art on a building wall in Bristol

Banksy is a British street and graffiti artist. He likes to remain anonymous and not let people know his true identity. He often draws in high visibility public places such as on buildings or train stations. His paintings are often about politics, war and other important topics.

His satirical street art and mind-hurting pictures combine dark humour with graffiti. The graffiti is done with a stencilling technique. Such works have been done on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.[2]

Banksy's work started in the Bristol underground scene, which had collaborations between artists and musicians.[3] According to graphic designer Tristan Manco and the book Home Sweet Home, Banksy "was born in 1974 and raised in Bristol, England.[4] The son of a photocopier technician, he trained as a butcher but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s".[5] His style is similar to Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris, and to members of the anarcho-punk band Crass, which did a graffiti stencil campaign on the London Underground system in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[6][7][8]

Banksy displays his art on public surfaces such as walls and even going as far as to build physical prop pieces. He does not sell photos of street graffiti directly himself.[9][10] However, art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street art on location and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the winning bidder.[11] Banksy's first movie, Exit Through the Gift Shop, billed as "the world's first street art disaster movie," made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.[12] The movie was released in the UK on 5 March 2010.[13] In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for the movie.

Identity[change | change source]

There have been numerous rumours as to Banksy's identity. Names often suggested include Robert Banks and Robin Gunningham.[14][15]

In 2004 an alleged photograph of him in Jamaica surfaced. In October 2007 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.[16] From the pictures, Banksy's identity was thought to be Robin Gunningham, a man born in Bristol on 28 July 1973. Gunningham was educated at Bristol Cathedral Choir School and Leicester Polytechnic, now De Montfort University, and according to a former friend, was "extremely talented at art".

Gunningham lived with artist Luke Egan. Around 2000, when Banksy moved from Bristol to London, Gunningham is known to have moved from Bristol to a London flat in Hackney, and a number of Banksy's most famous works appeared nearby. At that time, Gunningham lived with Jamie Eastman, who worked for a record label that used illustrations by Banksy.[14][17][18]

In May 2009, the Mail on Sunday once again speculated about Gunningham being Banksy.[19] This "new Banksy rat" story was also picked up by The Times,[20] and the Evening Standard.

In response to reports that Banksy was Robin Gunningham, Banksy's agent refused to either confirm or deny the reports.[21]

Simon Hattenstone from The Guardian 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."[22] In the same interview, Banksy claimed that his parents think he is a painter and decorator.[22]

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.[23]

Banksy Art[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Daunton, Martin (4 November 2004). "London's 'Great Stink' and Victorian Urban Planning". BBC News. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/trail/victorian_britain/social_conditions/victorian_urban_planning_01.shtml. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  2. "The Banksy Paradox: seven sides to the world's most infamous street artist, 2007
  3. Baker, Lindsay (28 March 2008). "Banksy: off the wall – Telegraph". London: The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3672135/Banksy-off-the-wall.html. Retrieved 24 June 2009.
  4. "Faces of the week". BBC News. 15 September 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5346822.stm. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  5. Manco, Tristan (2002). Stencil Graffiti. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 74. ISBN 978-0500283424 .
  6. Januszczak, Waldemar (8 June 2008). "Blek le Rat the man who gave birth to Banksy". The Times (London). http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article4066727.ece.
  7. "Blek le Rat: This is not a Banksy". The Independent (London). 19 April 2008. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/blek-le-rat-this-is-not-a-banksy-811130.html.
  8. Coan, Lee (13 June 2008). "Breaking the Banksy". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1024130/Breaking-Banksy-The-interview-worlds-elusive-artist.html.
  9. http://banksy.co.uk/shop/index.html
  10. http://banksyprints.org.uk/
  11. "Banksy fans fail to bite at street art auction". www.meeja.com.au. 30 September 2008. http://www.meeja.com.au/index.php?display_article_id=290. Retrieved 30 September 2008.
  12. "Banksy film to debut at Sundance". BBC News. 21 January 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts_and_culture/8471145.stm. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  13. Kay, Jeremy (26 January 2010). "Revolver sets March 5 UK release for Banksy documentary, news, screen". www.creendaily.com. http://www.screendaily.com/news/distribution/revolver-sets-march-5-uk-release-for-banksy-documentary/5010063.article. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Joseph, Claudia (13 July 2008). "Graffiti artist Banksy unmasked". Daily Mail (UK). Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1034538/Graffiti-artist-Banksy-unmasked---public-schoolboy-middle-class-suburbia.html. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  15. "Real name: Robert Banks, 32 years old in 2006 (BBC)". BBC News. 15 September 2006. Archived from the original on 11 January 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5346822.stm. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  16. BBC News Website – Artist Banksy 'captured in photo' BBC News 30 October 2007
  17. Taylor, Lee (16 June 2010). "Banksy art appears on London's Princess of Wales pub". London: News Limited. Archived from the original on 17 June 2010. http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/banksy-art-appears-on-londons-princess-of-wales-pub/story-e6frfq80-1225879898665. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
  18. Foster, Patrick (31 October 2007). "Banksy, the celebrated graffiti artist, is caught in the act for first time". The Times (UK). http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article2774359.ece. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  19. "Banksy revealed? Graffiti artist paints first ever 'self-portrait' on London office block". Daily Mail (UK). 11 May 2009. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1180361/Banksy-revealed-Graffiti-artist-paints-self-portrait-London-office-block.html.
  20. Hamilton, Fiona; Coates, Sam; Savage, Michael (11 May 2009). "Artist Banksy creates 'self-portrait' on East London office block". The Times (UK). http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article6262163.ece. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  21. "Paper 'reveals Banksy's identity'". BBC News. 13 July 2008. Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7504132.stm. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Hattenstone, Simon (17 July 2003). "Something to spray". The Guardian (UK). http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,,999712,00.html. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  23. "Banksy's own website". Banksy. Archived from the original on 30 January 2009. http://www.banksy.co.uk/menu.html. Retrieved 26 January 2009.