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Banksy

United Kingdom Born in: 1974 Masterpieces

We say that a good magician never reveals his secrets... so what about street artists? The artistic street "magician" that's never revealed his secret: Banksy. Everyone knows the name, but the man behind it remains a mystery, heightening the buzz surrounding his work. For a while now, several theories have been floating around, but nothing's been confirmed - making his art all the more intriguing!

Thanks to several amateur sleuths, Banksy is believed to have been born in Great Britain, near Bristol, in 1974. Banksy 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 80's alternative environment, he developed his iconic style that is immediately recognizable today. Banksy's work is similar to that of emerging street artists in France at this time, including of course Blek le Rat, Ernest-Pignon Ernest, Miss Tic, and Jeff Aérosol.

Banksy thrives in the benefits of stenciling's practicality, which he is most known for today. It is incredibly quick and efficient, compared with his first graffiti attempts using the standard spray can.

His artwork often includes catchy slogans to emphasize the desired message. By highlighting social injustices, his pieces have an anti-capitalist and anti-systemic message. However, he always mixes his ideology with humor - even his most political works have had poetry to accompany it. The two policemen kissing, the girl who lost her balloon, and a protestor throwing flowers... These images have been so heavily circulated that they have become iconic symbols in contemporary society. You'll often find the same characters popping up in his work: policemen, children, the elderly, soldiers, celebrities, and animals (particularly monkeys and rats).

Although, there is a slight problem here. How do you remain anti-capitalist whilst making decent money from your work? As a response, 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, and changed "Bank of England" to "Banksy of England".

He continues to gain fame by mixing mediums while 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". Like a treasure hunt, a new art piece was revealed in a different NYC location 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. It was a critique of social consumerism expressed through impressive, yet nauseating installations. More than 57 artists collaborated for the Dismaland project. Despite only being open to the public for a limited time, it is yet another achievement to add to this artist's collection; one that will be remembered for a long time in the art world.

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Our recommendations Banksy, Jake & Jill (Police Kids), Print

Banksy

Jake & Jill (Police Kids), 2005
19.7 x 27.6 inch
Print

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