In April 2014, he created a piece in Cheltenham, near the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) headquarters, which depicts three men wearing sunglasses and using listening devices to "snoop" on a telephone box, evidently criticising the recent Global surveillance disclosures of 2013. This was only confirmed by Banksy as his work later in June 2014. This piece 'disappeared' on 20 August 2016 during renovations to the building it was on, and may have been destroyed.
Banksy's works have dealt with various political and social themes, including anti-war, anti-consumerism, anti-fascism, anti-imperialism, anti-authoritarianism, anarchism, nihilism, and existentialism. Additionally, the components of the human condition that his works commonly critique are greed, poverty, hypocrisy, boredom, despair, absurdity, and alienation. Although Banksy's works usually rely on visual imagery and iconography to put forth their message, Banksy has made several politically related comments in their various books. In summarising his list of "people who should be shot", he listed "Fascist thugs, religious fundamentalists, (and) people who write lists telling you who should be shot." While facetiously describing his political nature, Banksy declared that "Sometimes I feel so sick at the state of the world, I can't even finish my second apple pie."
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Old Skool has always been a firm favorite amongst fans of Banksy’s work. The piece was situated in London’s Clerkenwell Road and showed old people engaging in the type of loitering usually expected from young people! There was some degree of mystery surrounding the piece in 2008 when it was painted over and replaced with a cut out stencil saying “collected” There is some debate as to whether or not the work was removed from the wall or painted over.
The Mild Mild West (1999) Pulp Fiction Gorilla in a Pink Mask Bombing Middle England Girl with Balloon (2002) Bomb Hugger Ballerina with Action Man Parts Parachuting Rat (2003) Untitled (2004) Fragile Silence Well Hung Lover (2006) Self Portrait Space Girl and Bird The Drinker One Nation Under CCTV (2008) Forgive Us Our Trespassing Cardinal Sin (2011) Slave Labour (2012) Better Out Than In (2013) Art Buff (2014) Spy Booth (2014) The Son of a Migrant from Syria (2015) Civilian Drone Strike (2017) Love is in the Bin (2018)
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.
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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!
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.
With this work, Banksy is drawing a parallel between the ancient, prehistoric cave paintings, and modern-day graffiti / street art. While it is standard practice for the latter to be cleaned off of walls, it would be unthinkable for the same fate to befall the former. In this way, the artist questions the value placed on certain works of art, and the label of "vandalism" assigned to others.
An eye-catching stencil by Banksy depicting a girl being grabbed by the robotic arm of a cash machine, this piece of work has been revisited by Banksy and is reported to have first appeared in its current state in May 2007 close to Exmouth Market in North London. The message appears to be anti-capitalist, with Banksy perhaps taking a swipe at high street banks luring customers in. Cash Machine Girl location.
For perhaps obvious reasons, digital reproductions can be frowned upon in the art world. Part of that is because they discourage originality—think of how many dorm rooms are decorated with a poster of Monet's Water-Lilies because the campus bookstore sells them for $10—but mostly it's just snobbery. Art prints aren't considered original art, so some people look down on them. [Insert extremely long pause here.] Are you wondering, Why the hell would I care if something's "original art" if it's cute and inexpensive and the artist is happy to sell it to me?? Well, same, thankfully. Lots of artists produce and sell art prints for way less than their originals as a way to make some cash flow but also to just get their art out in the world to more people. You're still supporting them by buying one of these if you can't afford the real thing! Once simply framed, digital prints can look super spiffy and finished in any room in your house. A gallery wall starts to look way more doable if you shop for art prints instead of originals! And you don't have to end up with some cheesy reproduction of an old-timey piece that hangs in the Louvre (those tend to be called "fine art prints" if you're trying to avoid them).
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In May, to coincide with the premiere of Exit Through the Gift Shop in Royal Oak, Banksy visited the Detroit area and left his mark in several places in Detroit and Warren. Shortly after, his work depicting a little boy holding a can of red paint next to the words "I remember when all this was trees" was excavated by the 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios. They claim that they do not intend to sell the work but plan to preserve it and display it at their Detroit gallery. There was also an attempted removal of one of the Warren works known as Diamond Girl.
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