In 2005, to comment on Israeli involvement in Palestine, Banksy travelled to the Middle East and targeted the West Bank wall. His satirical stencils criticised Israeli militarism and oppression. The works provoked fierce debate in the media over whether a wall judged to be “illegal” by the International Court of Justice could in fact be vandalised. Banksy described the wall as “the ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti writers".
While he may shelter behind a concealed identity, he advocates a direct connection between an artist and his constituency. “There’s a whole new audience out there, and it’s never been easier to sell [one’s art],” Banksy has maintained. “You don’t have to go to college, drag ’round a portfolio, mail off transparencies to snooty galleries or sleep with someone powerful, all you need now is a few ideas and a broadband connection. This is the first time the essentially bourgeois world of art has belonged to the people. We need to make it count.”
Peter Gibson, a spokesman for Keep Britain Tidy, asserts that Banksy's work is simple vandalism, and Diane Shakespeare, an official for the same organisation, was quoted as saying: "We are concerned that Banksy's street art glorifies what is essentially vandalism." In his column for The Guardian, satirist Charlie Brooker wrote of Banksy "...his work looks dazzlingly clever to idiots."
First appearing on a pub wall in Brighton, UK in 2004, Banksy’s “Kissing Coppers” was a a piece that was one in the eye for the for the police (who Banksy frequently taunts) as well as to homophobes. The siting of this graffiti was probably most deliberate given that Brighton is well-known for its large gay population. The work was removed in February 2014 following repeated vandal attempts and the pub owner was able to orchestrate a sale to a private buyer in Miami for a sum believed to be in the region of half a million dollars. Banksy Kissing Coppers location.
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.”
The crazy thing is that at the time we were trying to sell the house, but couldn’t sell it because of the graffiti. People went, “We love the house, but we’re not buying it with all that stuff on the side.” Then we had this bright idea of selling the Banksy and throwing the house in for free as a publicity stunt for the urban art gallery Red Propeller we were starting.
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A two-sided graffiti piece, one side depicting a child tasting the falling snow, the other revealing that the snow is in fact smoke and embers from a fire, appeared on two walls of a steelworker's garage in Port Talbot in December. Banksy then revealed that the painting was in fact his via an Instagram video soundtracked by the festive children's song 'Little Snowflake'. Many fans of the artist went to see the painting and Plaid Cymru councillor for Aberavon, Nigel Thomas Hunt, stated that the town was "buzzing" with speculation that the work was Banksy's. The owner of the garage, Ian Lewis, said that he had lost sleep over fears that the image would be vandalised. A plastic screen, partially funded by Michael Sheen, was installed to protect the mural, but was attacked by a "drunk halfwit". Extra security guards were subsequently drafted to protect the graffiti piece.
Government Spies appeared on the side of a house in Cheltenham in April 2014. The mural depicts mysterious 1950’s style agents listening in on a telephone box in reference to former CIA agent Edward Snowdon exposed techniques used by several agencies. The house on which the mural was painted is close to GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) which is the UK equivalent of America’s NSA. The piece was sold by the home owner to a private collector who is preparing to remove the mural, but as of 2 July the local council have placed a stop order on the work for one month. Government Spies Location.
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As the feud developed, Banksy painted over work by King Robbo, one of London’s earliest graffiti writers. Painting over the work of a fellow graffiti writer was seen as unforgivable and Robbo’s crew responded by defacing the new Banksy. A tit-for-tat war ensued – even continuing after Robbo’s untimely death - as his crew continued to target Banksy works across the capital. Robbo’s largely urban, underground, working class team saw Banksy as a mainstream, middle class imposter.
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Originally painted close to the Houses of Parliament in London, the original version of Banksy’s Soldiers Painting the CND sign was confiscated for allegedly breaking laws regarding protests in this area. It has been suggested that it represents the repression of free speech as well as acting as an anti-war protest. The piece was recreated and displayed in a collection at the Tate Britain gallery in 2007.
Banksy’s Better Out Than In pieces in New York have met with some differing opinions. Many New Yorkers love them while others deem them acts of vandalism. However, with Ghetto for Life which appeared in the Bronx, the majority of residents found the work to be offensive saying that it helps to perpetuate stereotypes. It seems many have focused on the words and not the artwork which depicts a little boy spraying the words and being waited on by a butler. Banksy seems to be saying that the ‘ghetto’ image is just that – an image used for style purposes. That didn’t stop people flocking to see it and the building’s owner employed guards to protect it! Ghetto for Life location.
Banksy is an anonymous England-based street artist, vandal, political activist, and film director. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique. His works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world. Banksy's work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. Banksy says that he was inspired by 3D, a graffiti artist who later became a founding member of the English musical group Massive Attack.