Born in 1974 - United Kingdom
We say that a good magician never reveals his secrets... so what about street artists? One street "magician" that's never revealed his secret is of course Banksy. Everyone knows the name but the man behind it remains a mystery and this heightens the interest surrounding his work. Several theories have been floating around for a while now but nothing's been confirmed - which makes his art all the more intriguing!
What we do know, thanks to several amateur sleuths, is that he is believed to have been born in 1974 in Great Britain, near Bristol. He made his debut on the underground street art scene as a teenager with the Bristol crew DryBreadZ (DBZ). It's in the midst of this alternative environment in the 80s where he really hones his iconic style that we recognise straightaway today. His work is similar to that of emerging street artists in France at this time, including of course Blek le Rat, but also Ernest-Pignon Ernest, Miss Tic and Jeff Aérosol.
Banksy soon falls for stencilling, for which he is most known today, because of its practical benefits. He soon finds it incredibly quick and efficient, compared with his first graffiti attempts using the standard spray can.
His artwork often includes catchy slogans to emphasise the desired message. Highlighting social injustices, his pieces have an anti-capitalist and anti-system message. However he always mixes his ideology with humour - even his most political work has a beautiful poetry to it. The two policemen kissing, the girl who's lost her balloon and a the protestor throwing flowers... These images have been circulated so much that they have become iconic symbols in contemporary society. You'll often find the same characters popping up in his work; policemen, children, soldiers, celebrities and the elderly. Animals feature regularly too, particularly monkeys and rats.
Slight problem here though - how do you remain anti-capitalist whilst making decent money from your work? To respond to this, Banksy defied the art market in 2013 by setting up a pop-up stall in Central Park. He sold his work, anonymously, for very low prices. Imagine the media outcry when people found out the pieces were real.
Banksy has always mixed art with performance. In 2004, during the Notting Hill carnival, the artist handed out spoof British £10 notes. He substituted the picture of the Queen’s head with Diana, Princess of Wales,'s head and changed "Bank of England" to "Banksy of England".
He continues to gain notoriety and mix up mediums, whilst keeping in line with his core values. In 2010 he produced a documentary film "Exit Through the Gift Shop". Filmed by Thierry Guetta, it focuses on the daily lives of artists such as Invader, Shepard Fairey, Mr Brainwash and Banksy, whilst attacking street art clichés. Then in 2013, he took up residency in New York city and unveiled new stencil and art installations under the title of "Better out than in". Almost like a treasure hunt, a new art piece was revealed in a different location in the city every day for a month.
In 2015 he achieved his biggest feat yet. Banksy created Dismaland, a theme park where things aren't quite as expected. Another critique of the consumer society, the installations were grand and impressive - yet nauseating. More than 57 artists collaborated for this project, which was open for a limited time to the public. Another feat to add to this artist's collection - and one that will be remembered for a long time in the art world.
“Beyond melancholia”. Sammlung Reinking, Museum für Völkerkunde, Hamburg (Germany)
“Banksy Versus Bristol Museum”, Bristol's City Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol (UK)
Blek Le Rat, GALERIE HENRIK SPRINGMANN, Dusseldorf (Germany)
Banksy, From the collection of Andipa Gallery, Andipa Gallery, London (UK)
Banksy, Keszler Gallery , Southampton, NY (US)
“Banksy, THE WORLD´S MOST CONTROVERSIAL STREET AND STENCIL ARTIST”, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong
Banksy, Solo Exhibition, Fabrik Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
Banksy New York: A Bankrobber crime, Vanina Holasek Gallery, New York City, NY (US)
BANKSY, Andipa Gallery, London (UK)
Barely Legal, LA Warehouse, Los Angeles, CA (US)
The Brask Collection, Munkeruphus, Dronningmølle (Denmark)
Wall to Wall, Hang-Up Gallery, London (UK)
“Freedom Not Genius, Works From Damien Hirst's Collection”, MAMM, Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (Russia)
“Economics in Art”, Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków (MOCAK), Krakow (Poland)
‘At home I´m a tourist”, Colección de Selim Varol, CAC Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Málaga, Málaga (Spain)
Vandals Valentine Pop Up, Reed Projects gallery, Stavanger (Norway)
“Au-Dela du Street Art,” Musee de la poste, Paris (France)
“Emulate”, 34FineArt, Cape Town (South Africa)
“This is London”, Shizaru Gallery, London (UK)
“Contemporary Print Making”, Jealous Gallery, London (UK)
Urban Fine Art, Group Exhibition, 99 Mount Street, London (UK)
“At home I'm tourist”, me Collectors Room Berlin, Berlin (Germany)
“Toykio Loves Gol”, Toykio Gallery, Dusseldorf (Germany)
“Outside In”, Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, LA (US)
“Mit sofortiger Wirkung, künstlerische Eingriffe in den Alltag”, Kunsthalle Wien project space karlsplatz, Vienna (Austria)
Collection Platform 2: Circulation, PinchukArtCentre, Kiev (Ukraine)
“Faith”, Sims Reed Gallery, London (UK)
“Dangerously Young”, Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent (Belgium)
“The Best Of Fabrik”, Fabrik Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
Traffic, Traffic, Dubai (UAE)
“Personal Effects”, Gallery Aferro, Newark, NJ (US)
Urban Art Show 2011, Belgrave Gallery St Ives, St. Ives, Cornwall (UK)
“Outside In”, Reed Projects gallery, Stavanger
“West End Rebellion”, Scream London, London (UK)
“Playing Field”, Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art, Culver City, CA (US)
“Banksy | War Boutique”, Andipa Gallery, London (UK)
“Untagged (the white wall show)”, IKON Ltd, Santa Monica, CA (US)
“NO GOVERNMENT NO CRY”, A Project by Kendell Geers, CIAP, Hasselt
“Street”, Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (US)
Summer Show, Andipa Gallery, London (UK)
“Viva la Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape”, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, MCASD Downtown, San Diego, CA (US)
“Street and Studio, Von Basquiat bis Séripop”, Kunsthalle Wien (Museumsquartier), Vienna (Austria)
ROUND ONE: GREAT EXPERIMENT, Driesch:Klonaris, Palma de Mallorca (Spain)
“Fourth Element II”, The Watermill, Aberfeldy, Perthshire, Scotland (UK)
“The Great British Show”, Fabrik Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
“DiedieDieDie verdammte gesamte Scheisse” KÜNSTLERBÜCHER, White Trash Contemporary, Hamburg (Germany)
“The Urban Legends”, Collectors Contemporary (Singapore)
“The Future of Street Art: From Jamie Reid to Banksy”, Bunkamura, Tokyo (Japan)
Urban Art, Werke aus der Sammlung Reinking, Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen (Germany)
“Get Rich Quick”, Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art, Culver City, CA (US)
“With You I Want to Live: Gordon Locksley & George T. Shea Collection”, Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, FL (US)
“OFF THE WALL – From Vandalism to Urban Art”, Wilde Gallery, Berlin (Germany)
“Change America”, Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (US)
“Call it what you like”, Collection Rik Reinking, Kunst Centret Silkeborg Bad, Silkeborg (Denmark)
“The Cans Festival”, The Cans Festival, London (UK)
HERE and NOW. PART II, REGINAGALLERY, Moscow (Russia)
“Warhol vs. Banksy”, The Hospital, London (UK)
“In the darkest hour there may be light”, Brandler Galleries, Brentwood, Essex (UK)
“In the darkest hour there may be light, Works from Damien Hirst’s murderme collection”, Serpentine Gallery, London (UK)
“There is a U in Us”, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen (Denmark)
“Damien Hirst & His Contemporaries”, Andipa Gallery, London (UK)
“Spank the Monkey”, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (US)
“Minimal Illusions”, Arbeiten mit der Sammlung Rik Reinking, Villa Merkel, Galerien der Stadt Esslingen, Esslingen (Germany)
V1 One, A Celebration of Rebellion, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen (Denmark)
Backjumps, The Live Issue #1, Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Berlin (Germany)
Longlife, Spacex, Exeter (UK)
Banksy vs. Eine, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen (Denmark)
“Urban Discipline 2002: Graffiti-Art”, Urban Discipline, Hamburg (Germany)
“Viva la Republique!”, the centre of attention, London (UK)
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