One of the few things I regret having left behind is a world without graffiti, especially since the UK-based artist Banksy has come on the scene. You may think that graffiti is a scourge, but my feeling is that anything besides art that is man-made is inferior to the beauty of nature. The argument can be made that a street artist who “defaces” an urban wall or building is, in most cases (except where a competent architect has been involved), improving whatever serves as his canvas.
In an earlier life, I have even been known to accompany a vandal on a late-night tagging expedition, just to see what it was like.
Banksy is a pseudonymous graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter whose satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humor with graffiti executed in a distinctive stencilling technique. Such artistic works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.
Known for his contempt for the government in labeling graffiti as vandalism, Banksy displays his art on visible surfaces such as walls, even going as far as to build physical prop pieces. Banksy’s first film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, billed as “the world’s first street art disaster movie”, made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for the film.
Knowing where to attack government where it will be noticed, in August 2004 Banksy produced a quantity of spoof British £10 notes substituting the picture of the Queen’s head with Princess Diana’s head, and changing the text “Bank of England” to “Banksy of England.” The bank notes can be seen in Exit Through the Gift Shop.
In 2014, he was awarded person of year at the 2014 Webby Awards.
Here are some of his best-known works:
And one of my favorite Banksy projects:
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