You are likely familiar with Banksy’s art. The mysterious graffiti artist has left his calling card all over London and the UK. Like Andy Warhol, Banksy’s art has become extremely commercial and replicable ; you can buy copies of Banksy’s art on tourist souvenirs and pillow shams. One of the artist’s most famous graffiti his The Balloon Girl. However, the identity of the artist is highly unknown. Bansky is the most notable graffiti artist and his work is known across the world. If you ever get a chance, catch the artist’s 2010 documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop for a more in-depth look. Banksy was nominated for an Academy Award for the film.
Below is everything we know about the artist behind Banky’s art.
What We Do Know
What we do know about Banksy and his art is that the artist is an anonymous, England-based street artist. He has been around since the 1990s. In addition to being a street artist, Banksy is a known political activist and filmmaker. His works usually surfaces in the public streets, but he will only claim ownership via social media. Banksy’s art was first noticed on trains and public walls of Bristol, his home town. Theoretically, graffiti is illegal, so it made sense for him then to have kept his identity a secret. Now his work can be found all over the UK and the world.
What’s the Meaning?
Banksy is a global artist. His work is found across the world and engages on different levels of experience and awareness. His murals have even turned up in the Gaza strip. On the remnants of residential home destroyed by the bombings is a kitten, with Banksy’s explanation that the only thing people pay attention to on the internet is cats. Powerful.
Often times controversial, Banksy’s art is changing our perception and the world.
Notable Banksy Art
Banksy speaks for a generation. Even though he is mainstream now, he began as a counter culture in the world of Art. His art dabbles the line of politics and humor. he taps into the current zeitgeist. There are some reoccurring images like Gorilla in the Pink Mask or Parachuting Rat. Below are just some of his notables.
- Balloon Girl ( 2002)
It is thought that this etching represents hope, innocence, and childhood. The balloon is just within the little girl’s grasp.
- Love is the Bin (2006)
- Well Hung Lover (2006)
- Civilian Drone Strike (2017)
*This piece is in dialogue with complaints against the military, as a young child witnesses the destruction of their home due to drone strikes.
- Spy Booth
- Mobile Lovers (2014)
This etching gained a lot of notoriety. Clearly, Banksy is highlighting an inherent sickness of the digital age in our inability to connect with one another by simply removing ourselves from our smartphones.
Banksy’s art has a highly recognized style. He uses stencils in his art because it is more time efficient and decrease the likelihood of being caught. The influence came from French graffiti artist Blek le Rat. There is a political undertone to his work with a layer of dark humor. Banksy’s art society in their inequities and hypocrisies. Surprisingly, his art is not only confined to street art; he has prints and large gallery installations. He even opened a “bemusement park,” Dismaland, which closed in 2015. In his Crude Oils (2011) exhibition, live rats roamed the gallery as a part of the experience.
The Cost of Banksy’s Art
The cost of Banksy art is not cheap and certainly adds to the hype. Balloon Girl at Sothebys sold for 1.4 million pounds. Forbes reported that the artist would prefer for his work to cost nothing. The artist estimated worth is 50 million. Many celebrities have acquired the work for their lavish homes like, Serena Williams, Justin Bieber, Angelina Jolie, and Kate Moss. Cold Play’s, Chris Martin, paid a chill $650,000 for a piece (no big deal).
Banksy Artists Theories
Banksy’s identity remains a mystery. However, the two names thrown in the hat most often are Robert Banks and Robin Gunningham.
A teenager in 2015, claimed Robert Banks was Banksy when on a train the man gave him a signed artwork that was worth $24,000.00 US dollars. There are also theories that Banksy is a blonde woman, which are explored in the HBO documentary Bansky Does New York. This theory has of yet has not been disproved…. There are also theories that a park attendant at Banksy’s Dismaland could be the artist.
The best case is for Robin Gunningham who is a resident of Bristol and was a prior public school boy. It gets serious, students in criminology at the Queen Mary University of London used “geographic tagging” to link 140 artworks to addresses with links to Mr. Gunningham. It seems more likely Gunningham is in fact Bansky. The Google hits are 43,000.
The debate of the artist’s true identity continues. However, you can always check out Banksy’s Instagram if you want to get your facts directly from the source. Also, Read The Best of Billie Eilish’s Instagram. Good news: there is COVID-19 Banksy art. The artist donated a work featuring hospital heroes. A little boy plays with his action dolls including a caped nurse (love it).
Just recently, Banksy has also unveiled a new work honoring the Black Lives Matter movement.