Infamous British artist Banksy is one of the most iconic figures in the world today. Yet nobody knows what he looks like or his even knows his real name. Somehow though, Banksy the graffiti master, filmmaker, activist and skilled painter has created works of art that have sold for millions of dollars and left his uniquely provocative pieces in all corners of the world.
Back in 2010, he even made it into Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world list, alongside high profile figureheads like Steve Jobs and Barack Obama!
His pieces are overtly critical of status quo, of widespread poverty, of the injustice that is prevalent in society and of our fondness of war with disregard for the people that suffer for our violence.
The irony is not lost on this ardent protestor that his artwork bemoaning the state of society and capitalism can demand hefty price tags, so he makes it his business to offer many of his works for free too.
Recently the Smithsonian Magazine put together a feature article about Banksy’ fascinating rise from being a graffiti artist hiding from the cops just like any other, to one of the most in demand, talked about artists in the world today.
In the article Banksy talks about the way in which the internet has opened the art world up to a different audience. He said: “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.”
The piece also looks at some of his most successful coups, describing how he sneaked into Britain’s renowned Tate gallery clutching a large paper bag and dressed in a dark overcoat, a floppy hat and scarf. His intention was to put up an unsigned oil painting he had found in London street market that captured a rural scene which had modified with the stenciled police crime scene tape. The picture was titled “Crimewatch UK Has Ruined the Countryside for All of Us” and he proceeded to hang it up in Room 7 on the second level of the gallery! He also managed to get into the revered French museum the Louvre where he proceeded to put up a picture of the Mona Lisa complete with smiley-face sticker and has carried out similar pranks in respected museums all over the world.
The Smithsonian feature is a great read and offers a timeline of Banksy’ various different achievements and high profile art attacks as well as an insight into the enigmatic artist’s motivations, you can read more from it here.