The Westminster City Council stated in October 2008 that the work One Nation Under CCTV, painted in April 2008 would be painted over as it was graffiti. The council said it would remove any graffiti, regardless of the reputation of its creator, and specifically stated that Banksy "has no more right to paint graffiti than a child". Robert Davis, the chairman of the council planning committee told The Times newspaper: "If we condone this then we might as well say that any kid with a spray can is producing art." The work was painted over in April 2009. In December 2008, The Little Diver, a Banksy image of a diver in a duffle coat in Melbourne, Australia, was destroyed. The image had been protected by a sheet of clear perspex; however, silver paint was poured behind the protective sheet and later tagged with the words "Banksy woz ere". The image was almost completely obliterated.
Banksy is no stranger to controvery, but sometimes it is not the pieces of his art you would expect that prove to be the most divisive. Tox is one of those pieces. In June 2011, graffiti lover Daniel Halpin, aka Tox was convicted of tagging multiple locations over a three year period. The prosecution mocked him as ‘no Banksy’ due to a lack of artistry in his tagging. In response Banksy put up the piece which shows a little boy writing ‘Tox’ in bubbles. Opinion is split as to whether this is a show of solidarity or being used to poke fun at Halpin. Location of Tox.
Ghetto Boy caused something of a stir when it appeared in Hackney in 2009 . It was one of 2 new Banksy pieces discovered in the London area (the other being Last Graffiti) after the artist took a short hiatus from creating new works. Unfortunately this piece has since been removed. Ghetto Boy depicted a small boy in street clothes clutching a ghetto blaster and a teddy bear, with the pavement beneath painted as a dance mat. It is believed this was a comment on gang culture in the area which had seen an increase in child involvement around that time. Ghetto Boy location
Banksy is well known for his use of rats and this particular example discovered in Wall street in 2008 is a great example. In a play on the famous quote attributed to Marie Antoinette, he proclaimss “let them eat crack” in commentary on the public outrage at how financial matters were being handled around the time. Needless to say it was soon painted over!
By using shopping carts, an image associated with consumerism, Banksy's message is that society is focused on material goods, buying more than is necessary in a futile attempt to make ourselves feel happy and fulfilled. Moreover, by representing these man-made objects as discarded in an otherwise beautiful natural setting, he critiques contemporary society's disregard for nature in favor of commodity fetishism and the production of excessive waste, Even the title of Banksy's work has subverted the meaning of the original, with the word money being a play on Monet, which can be read as a critique of the commercialization of art.
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It was reported that then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Banksy a vandal whose work is not the definition of art, and that the NYPD's vandal squad was on the hunt for Banksy over his various graffiti art and installations. One creation was a fiberglass sculpture of Ronald McDonald and a real person, barefoot and in ragged clothes, shining the oversized shoes of Ronald McDonald. The sculpture was unveiled in Queens but moved outside a different McDonald's around the city every day. Other works included a YouTube video showing what appears to be footage of jihadist militants shooting down an animated Dumbo; travelling installations that toured the city including a slaughterhouse delivery truck full of stuffed animals and a waterfall; and a modified painting donated to a charity shop which was later sold in an online auction for $615,000. Banksy also posted a mock-up of a New York Times op-ed attacking the design of the One World Trade Center after the Times rejected his submission. The residency in New York concluded on 31 October 2013; many of the pieces, though, were either vandalised, removed or stolen.
In May 2009, Banksy parted company with agent Steve Lazarides and announced that Pest Control, the handling service who act on his behalf, would be the only point of sale for new works. On 13 June 2009, the Banksy vs Bristol Museum show opened at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, featuring more than 100 works of art, including animatronics and installations; it is his largest exhibition yet, featuring 78 new works. Reaction to the show was positive, with over 8,500 visitors to the show on the first weekend. Over the course of the twelve weeks, the exhibition was visited over 300,000 times. In September 2009, a Banksy work parodying the Royal Family was partially destroyed by Hackney Council after they served an enforcement notice for graffiti removal to the former address of the property owner. The mural had been commissioned for the 2003 Blur single "Crazy Beat" and the property owner, who had allowed it to be painted, was reported to have been in tears when she saw it was being painted over.
Girl and a Soldier is one of the 2007 pieces that Banksy put up on a wall in Bethlehem. The innocent little girl is seen frisking an armed soldier in a stark reversal of roles. This along with other images on the wall were intended to promote the annual Santa’s Ghetto exhibit. The piece is still visible although somewhat faded.Girl and a Soldier location
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Bubble Slide Girl was painted on the wall of a youth club in Hackney, East London in February 2008. It depicts a little girl using a drain pipe as a slide while blowing bubbles. The image shows the girl adapting to her surroundings and finding a playground in an unlikely place, just as society continues to adapt to difficulties in the world around us. Unfortunately this particular example of Banksy’s work has now been removed with only a faint outline still visible. Bubble Girl location
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Banksy’s first London exhibition, so to speak, took place in Rivington Street in 2001, when he and fellow street artists convened in a tunnel near a pub. “We hung up some decorators’ signs nicked off a building site,” he later wrote, “and painted the walls white wearing overalls. We got the artwork up in 25 minutes and held an opening party later that week with beers and some hip-hop pumping out of the back of a Transit van. About 500 people turned up to an opening which had cost almost nothing to set up.”
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