“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
Ever since I watched the 2010 Academy award nominated documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” years ago, I have been obsessed with Banksy. In 2010 he was named one of the most influential people in the world.
Some may think he doesn’t deserve the honor, others may be tired of hearing about him. Some may not have the same appreciation for his artwork or even his method of display. He provokes debate, his methods can be seen as over-the-top and controversial. I get it if he isn’t your cup of tea!!
There is sooo much to write about him, but will keep it brief. You can find loads more about him by just googling his name – so many interesting articles out there.
For those of you who have never heard of Banksy, he is a street artist from Bristol, England. No-one but his close friends, family and business partners know who he actually is – his real name has never been published (though speculated many times)….how he has managed to remain anonymous is pretty phenomenal in itself. He rarely gives interviews but when he does, they are done via e-mail or he alters his voice.
His design of street art (aka, graffiti) is stencil based and is a method he used to allow him to paint faster to avoid a night in the pokey. If you watch the documentary, you can see how he does it.
He rose to fame in the late 90’s in London – his art sprung up all over the city, seemingly always over night – he managed to remain elusive to the English
Boobies Bobbies. Since then, his art has appeared all over the world – Europe, US, Palestine, and Australia.
His works generally represent his disdain for authority or to highlight humanitarian issues – usually meant to make a statement and in many cases are completely outrageous. He has decorated live elephants (see below) and released rats during his art installations. He has managed to do his work covertly in museums, Disneyland, the London Zoo…I don’t know how he does it!
“The Girl and Balloon” below is one of his most iconic works you have probably seen before.
One of his most recent shenanigans (October 2018) occurred during the sale of his artwork of a version of “The Girl and Balloon” which sold for $1.3 (or $1.4) million USD at Sotheby’s London. What he did with this was BRILLIANT. Minutes after the piece was sold, someone (presumably him) pressed a remote control button and it shredded itself! There was a small malfunction and it didn’t shred all the way – in the end that artwork allegedly doubled in value.
There is a video of the whole event HERE. There are snippets of him in the clip – he usually wears a hooded sweatshirt so you can’t see his face. From what I understand, all proceeds from his sold work goes to charities. That makes me love him even more. 🙂
When we were recently in London and Paris, in between wandering aimlessly in the rain….if we got stuck without something to do, I would google Banksy to find some of his artwork in whichever part of town we were in and go a-hunting. He usually places his artwork on walls or his own installations and they are not always obvious. No telling how many we un-knowningly passed on our journey to cover every inch of these two giant cities.
The locations to find his work will bring you to parts of town you may never go to: down alleyways, under bridges, etc. Sometimes they are large and obvious, other times they are somewhat small – in fact, I am sure people frequently walk by his artwork without noticing.
His notoriety means his artwork, if you can find it, is covered in plexi-glass so people don’t carve it out of brick walls and such. It’s nuts. There is a chance when you actually get to one of the identified locations, the art wont exist – either because the building is being torn down or renovated or someone has spray-painted over it. I only know this because I went on a couple of wild goose chases!
I managed to find 3 pieces – 2 in Shoreditch, London, 1 in the 5th Arondissmont in Paris and searched for 2 others in Paris I couldn’t find.
Honestly, I could have planned the entire trip around this activity…it’s like hunting for Easter eggs. This most likely would have sucked for Sean – but – perhaps I’ll go back for a long weekend and do it on my own. In fact, its been officially added to my bucket list!
His work has inspired me to search for ALL kinds of interesting street art in nooks and crannies, on sidewalks, overpasses, lamp-posts, etc. Adds to the fun of a walk-about in a big, European city!
This post is part of the 30-day November blogging challenge known as NanoPoblano2019. Our challenge is to write for 10 days, read others’ posts for 10 days, and share our posts for 10 days – could be to other social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or simply sharing with friends with a text link.
Check out this NanoPoblano2019 link and read some talented writers/bloggers posts!