“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
Banksy is a UK-based graffiti artist, political activist and film director of unverified identity. His work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. It covers a variety of subjects, including graffiti laws, war, religion, animal slaughtering, and hope.
He is notoriously secretive and his irreverent, beautiful and gently subversive style combines with dark humour. His well executed, brilliant work has featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world. Banksy’s notoriety sprang from a range of urban interventions – from modifying street signs, printing his own currency and illegally hanging his own works in the Louvre and the Museum of Modern Art.
“TV has made going to the theatre seem pointless, photography has pretty much killed painting, but graffiti has remained gloriously unspoilt by progress.”
Banksy doesn’t sell photos, posters or reproductions of his street graffiti, art auctioneers however 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! His works have sold for millions of dollars.
While he operates anonymously, he advocates a direct connection between an artist and his audience.
“There’s a whole new audience out there, and it’s never been easier to sell art. You don’t have to go to college, drag ’round a portfolio, mail off transparencies to snooty galleries or sleep with someone powerful, all you need now is a few ideas and a broadband connection. This is the first time the essentially bourgeois world of art has belonged to the people. We need to make it count.”
Banksy’s first film, Exit Through the Gift Shop made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for the film.
Last word: my initial response to graffiti per se has been to think its like someone coming along and tattooing your body while you are asleep i.e. vandalism. I’ve moderated that – good clever beautiful street art can be inspiring and thought provoking.