Episode #1 of the course “Street artists you should know”
A British street muralist and graffiti artist, the painter who goes by the name “Banksy” retains some mystery about his identity. Although he is suspected to be Robin Gunningham, it is also debated whether Banksy might be a woman or a team of multiple artists. Banksy’s identity remains unknown because street graffiti is still a crime.
Banksy’s murals and artworks are often painted on the walls or exteriors of buildings, bridges, and sidewalks around the world; themes range from anti-corporation or anti-establishment to other forms of social commentary. In 2004, Banksy produced a set of counterfeit British money that replaced Queen Elizabeth II’s image with that of Princess Diana and the phrase “Bank of England” with the phrase “Banksy of England.” These British notes often sell for 20 times their face value.
Banksy often stages exhibits that get people thinking and talking about important social issues, such as the 2006 exhibition Barely Legal, which featured a live elephant painted to bring awareness to world poverty. Although exhibits occur, the most complete collection of Banksy’s artwork is spontaneous. Banksy art is often depicted without naming exact locations.
Because many of Banksy’s paintings are produced in public places, they are often destroyed or painted over, so there is no absolute or accurate number of Banksy works around the world. There is much street art that is attributed to Banksy but that may not be his. To bring awareness to the style and importance of street art as a social critique, Banksy produced the film Exit Through the Gift Shop in 2010. The film premiered at the Spring Dance Film Festival and brought international interest to street and graffiti art as a valid art form with a modern social consciousness.
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