This book has a smidgen of his history with just enough details to give us a view into Banksy's perspective and goals, but not enough to identify him. And that's fine with me; I love the mystery of who he might be. He gets to remain "everyman" or any man and speak truth to power on our behalf. This book is a wonderful introduction to his work if you haven't seen "Exit Through the Gift Shop" or heard of him. And, if you're a big fan, it's a delight!
The old town was formerly a fishing harbour which in 1301 was recorded to have 150 homesteads with 800 inhabitants. A mediaeval wooden lighthouse, known locally as a foïer, was built on a dune and lit by charcoal and faggots but this burned down several times. On one occasion at least it was as a result of the continuous conflict between the English and the French in the Hundred Years War. The chronicler Enguerrand de Monstrelet mentions that during 1414 the English garrison in Calais raided south and burned the town. Eventually the lighthouse was replaced by a stone tower at the side of which a chapel was built in the 15th century, but this did not save it from further mishap. During the second siege of Montreuil in 1544, the English advanced from the south and burned 200 houses, the church and the mill as they passed through Berck. What was left of the place was then burned by the French on their way to relieve the siege.
In this book is an excerpt from a letter in which a young man asks Banksy to stop stenciling his childhood neighborhood because it makes the area seem hip and Yuppies are moving in, raising housing prices such that this young man cannot buy a house here. Banksy's book is filled with inspiring, hilarious, and very intelligent statements accompanied by witty captions, but his work is the kind that speaks 1000 words by themselves. A true public artist, Bansky also offers his tips on how to take a town by storm in only one night. The art in this book is a response often times to public advertising; it is essentially a way for the public to respond to the ads that we are forced to see. A great and intriguing book.
In May 2011 Banksy released a lithographic print which showed a smoking petrol bomb contained in a 'Tesco Value' bottle. This followed a long running campaign by locals against the opening of a Tesco Express supermarket in Banksy's home city of Bristol. Violent clashes had taken place between police and demonstrators in the Stokes Croft area. Banksy produced the poster ostensibly to raise money for local groups in the Stokes Croft area and to raise money for the legal defence of those arrested during the riots. The posters were sold exclusively at the Bristol Anarchists Bookfair in Stokes Croft for £5 each.
Banksy's book, Wall and Piece, is truly something that could be appreciated on many different levels. Captured in vibrant color in the pages of this hard cover book, Banksy's art evokes many feelings. Whether it be a chuckle at the Mona Lisa holding an RPG, awe at the modified oil paintings placed in various museums, or appreciation of the clever detail of his urban rats, this book has images that will make you laugh, think, and wonder "Is Banksy 'just' a graffiti artist or, more likely, a super-talented commentariat that uses spray paint as his primary medium?" I think anybody who appreciates art in general could appreciate this book and it's contents.
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Among the structures photographed prior to the opening were a large pinwheel by Banksy, Horse Scaffolding Sculpture by Ben Long, and a twisted truck sculpture, Big Rig Jig by artist Mike Ross which was previously shown at Burning Man in 2007. Works by 58 artists, including Jenny Holzer, Damien Hirst, Jeff Gillette, Jimmy Cauty and Bill Barminski were featured in the park. Banksy said he contacted the "best artists I could imagine" to exhibit, with two artists turning him down.