Banksy is without doubt the world’s most famous and celebrated graffiti artist. To some, his works of art are poignant, thought-provoking, ironic and humorous. To others, it is just plain vandalism. Whichever side of the fence you are on, there can be no doubt that he is a very talented and clever artist and conveys his views in a way that many of us could not manage to do. I have put together here a list of the best Banksy graffiti art and street art pieces, with as many as possible showing the various locations of his artworks and with Google “Street Map” views where applicable. So here goes….
Artwork description & Analysis: Again, Banksy has taken a pre-existing image - in this case an iconic photograph from Vietnam in 1972, of a girl - Kim Phuc - fleeing from a napalm attack on her village. The original photograph was taken by associated press photographer Nick Ut and has developed into a short hand for the atrocities of the Vietnam War. Banksy has isolated the image of the horror-stricken girl (originally surrounded by a few other clothed children and seven soldiers running down a road away from the site of the napalm attack) and flanked her with Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald. These two instantly recognizable, smiling characters, when juxtaposed with the image of Napalm Girl, give the image a very twisted and sinister feel.
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This is one of the lesser known Banksy pieces in the San Francisco area. It depicts Osama Bin Laden sunbathing. The piece requires a hefty climb to access it but the spot provides beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It pokes fun at the idea that while the USA was hunting for Bin Laden he was believed to be hiding in the US. Osama Sunbathing location.
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Banksy painted the Grim Reaper on the waterside of the moored boat, so the only way he could have done it would have been by sailing out in a rowing boat or something, most likely under cover of darkness. The Reaper is quite large – a couple of metres, and because of its position, it was unlikely to ever be stolen. It wouldn’t just have caused a lot of attention in the harbour, but potentially have sunk the boat! It was probably more hassle than any vandal would be bothered with. But with it being so close to the waterline the big problem was deterioration.
Mobile Phone Lovers caused a stir when it appeared close to a boys club in Banksy’s home town of Bristol. The owner of the club removed the door with the intention of using it to raise funds for his club, but it was taken from him by the local council who claimed ownership. However the issue was resolved when Banksy himself sent a letter to the club seeming to condone his choice to use it as a fundraiser. Mobile Phone Lovers location
In March, a stencilled graffiti work appeared on Thames Water tower in the middle of the Holland Park roundabout, and it was widely attributed to Banksy. It was of a child painting the tag "Take this—Society!" in bright orange. London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham spokesman, Councillor Greg Smith branded the art as vandalism, and ordered its immediate removal, which was carried out by H&F council workmen within three days.
The piece can be read in many ways. In one respect, Banksy is advocating for a sexual-identity accepting society by placing icons of authority in a pro-gay position. His use of policemen, rather than ordinary citizens, is intriguing, because the very subjects of his tender portrayal are often the ones to working to eradicate his vandalism. While some believe that he is poking fun at policemen, showing them in a vulnerable, intimate moment, others read the work more positively, as showing a human side to the police force, and emphasizing the strong bonds that exist on the police force between partners and teammates. The work is an undeniable testament to Banksy's use of irony to challenge us to build a bridge of understanding between expected enemies of ideology.
“No Ball Games” first appeared in Turnpike Lane, North London, in 2009 but was later removed in July 2013 by a private organisation called “Sincura Group” in order to display it at the “Stealing Bansky” exhibition, a private collection of original Banksy works. Sincura Group have claimed that they have made no profit from the exhibition. The same group were also responsible for removing Banksy’s Slave Labour piece (see next item) which appeared close by in Wood Green in 2012. Banksy himself has made it clear he has no links with either the group or the exhibition. Banksy No Ball Games location.
Although this is widely believed to be a work of Banksy when it appeared outside a pub in Bristol and is supposedly one of Banksy’s most famous pieces, the ‘Panda With Guns’ is probably not a work of Banksy at all. Some people attribute it to a French artist by the name of Julien Fanton D’Andon, who purportedly produced it for a record label called ‘Bad Panda’. Whether or not this is a Banksy, the ‘Pandas with Guns” just cannot be left out of this list!
Around this time, he also settled on his distinctive stencil approach to graffiti. When he was 18, he once wrote, he was painting a train with a gang of mates when the British Transport Police showed up and everyone ran. “The rest of my mates made it to the car,” Banksy recalled, “and disappeared so I spent over an hour hidden under a dumper truck with engine oil leaking all over me. As I lay there listening to the cops on the tracks, I realized I had to cut my painting time in half or give it up altogether. I was staring straight up at the stenciled plate on the bottom of the fuel tank when I realized I could just copy that style and make each letter three feet high.” But he also told his friend, author Tristan Manco: “As soon as I cut my first stencil I could feel the power there. I also like the political edge. All graffiti is low-level dissent, but stencils have an extra history. They’ve been used to start revolutions and to stop wars.”
^ Child, Andrew (28 January 2011). "Urban Renewal: Steve Lazarides continues to expand his street art empire". Financial Times. London. Archived from the original on 28 March 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2013. He had discovered Banksy on a chance photo shoot in Bristol in 2001 while working as picture editor of Sleaze Nation magazine, and brought him to public attention along with a roster of other urban artists... Lazarides and Banksy parted company in 2009, a mysterious split about which both parties have remained tight-lipped.
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Flower Aerial Girl, in Los Angeles, features a young girl in silouhette tending a television aerial in the same manner as one would a pot of flowers. The aerial appears to have grown and has sprouted leaves suggesting that the more kids pay attention to TV, the more influence it cultivates. The piece remained relatively untouched on a gas station in Valero until the owner cut it out of the wall and auctioned it for a healthy sum.