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United Kingdom Born in: 1974 Famous artist

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.

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


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


Few works remaining by Banksy

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Banksy doesn’t have any exhibitions.

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