Banksy is an anonymous England-based street artist, vandal, political activist, and film director, active since the 1990s. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique. His works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world. Banksy's work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. Banksy says that he was inspired by 3D, a graffiti artist who later became a founding member of the English musical group Massive Attack.
Banksy displays his art on publicly visible surfaces such as walls and self-built physical prop pieces. Banksy no longer sells photographs or reproductions of his street graffiti, but his public "installations" are regularly resold, often even by removing the wall they were painted on. A small number of Banksy's works are officially, non-publicly, sold through Pest Control. Banksy's documentary film Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for the film. In 2014, he was awarded Person of the Year at the 2014 Webby Awards.
A Banksy mural at the Israeli West Bank barrier or wall (for further names see here) is a separation barrier in the West Bank or along the Green Line. Banksy's Balloon Girl painting - a 2002 street mural of a young girl releasing a heart-shaped balloon that appeared on a wall of a Shoreditch shop - has been named Britain's favorite. Banksy's Girl With Umbrella (2008). (Photo: Infrogmation. Via Flickr/Wikimedia Commons.)
After so many attempts, both successful and unsuccessful, to remove, borrow or destroy Banksy’s famous pieces, governments and authorities sometimes make an official decision to protect and preserve the artwork. This is also the case for some of the latest pieces made by the elusive street artist in Calais. Banksy’s mural depicting Steve Jobs as a Syrian refugee is one of the three pieces which appeared in the French port of Calais last week. Dubbed as Steve Jobs the Son of Syrian Migrant, the mural holds significant meaning and conveys an important message. Two other works of the same artist found in the Jungle are also to be protected and secured by a shield glass of transparent plastic panels.
Following Banksy’s unauthorized installation this Wednesday, the British street artist now confirms a new stenciled mural in Venice. The outdoor artwork portrays a migrant child wearing a lifejacket while holding a crackling neon pink flare. According to the Italian paper Artribune, the piece was first spotted early May in the Italian city’s Dorsoduro district during the Venice Biennale 2019 art fair. This latest piece may be addressing the global refugee crisis.
Banksy has often raised awareness for the refugee crisis throughout his years-long practice as a graffiti artist. For instance, he spray-painted a portrait of the late Steve Jobs with a black garbage bag thrown over one shoulder and an original Apple computer in his hand. The piece was painted in the Calais refugee camp back in 2015.
In addition to the work, Banksy expressed in a statement: “We’re often led to believe migration is a drain on the country’s resources but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant. Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over $7 billion USD a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs.”
Banksy’s “Flower Girl” mural, created on the wall of a Los Angeles gas station, is to be auctioned in December.CreditCreditJulien's Auctions, via Associated Press
By Melena Ryzik
Aug. 13, 2013
Under cover of night, in 2008, Banksy, the pseudonymous British artist, stenciled a mural on a wall of a gas station in Los Angeles: the silhouette of a girl holding a basket of flowers and peering up at a security camera. About nine months ago, that 5,000-pound, 9-by-8-foot chunk of brick wall was removed, and, in the latest of a string of controversial sales of Banksy street work, will soon be on the block. In December, Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, Calif., will offer “Flower Girl,” the first Banksy street art to be sold in the United States, the auctioneers said.
The gas station owner brought the wall himself, said Michael Doyle, the consignment director at Julien’s, which called the sale a “rare opportunity to own one of Banksy’s early large-scale graffiti murals,” made just as he was becoming the toast of the global art world. Mr. Doyle would not name the owner, but said the mural was installed with his permission after he was approached by Mr. Brainwash, a Los Angeles graffiti artist, to ask if “his friend” could work there. There was no mention of the name Banksy, but the image later appeared on his Web site. The high estimate is $300,000.
But there are signs that the work could fetch much more. This summer, “Slave Labour,” a Banksy mural behind a discount shop in London, was sold at a private auction there for $1.1 million. It depicted a barefoot boy kneeling over a sewing machine, stitching; real Union Jack fabric was attached to the wall. The stencil, which went up in May 2012, became a tourist attraction. In classic Banksy style, the piece had social and political undertones: the shop where it appeared, Poundland, had been embroiled in a controversy about selling goods produced using child labor. When “Slave Labour” disappeared from the building in February, Poundland, which was renting the property, denied it had anything to do with it. (Poundland had cut ties with suppliers in India that employ children several years ago.)
“Slave Labour” then popped up in an online listing though an auction house in Miami, but the sale was halted after protests from street art aficionados, who contended that public works were not intended for private consumption. It was eventually sold in London by the owners of the Poundland building. The Sincura Group, a concierge agency in London, handled the sale, and it is also behind the restoration and impending sale of another high-profile Banksy piece, “No Ball Games,” removed from a convenience store in the Tottenham neighborhood in London. Proceeds from its sale will go to charity, Sincura has promised. At the English seaside town of Torquay, another Banksy wall piece was recently covered to protect it.
Ownership of street art has been a hot topic in the art world. Graffiti is, by its very nature, ephemeral, and in most places illegal. Many street artists expect that their work will eventually fade away or be painted over. But as the genre has grown in stature and value, inspiring museum shows and commanding stratospheric prices, enterprising property owners, with adorned walls, are seeing windfalls in a few tagged-up bricks. For his part, Banksy, who documented, and poked fun at, the rise of street art culture in his Oscar-nominated documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” which starred Mr. Brainwash, has always differentiated between public murals and work for collectors.
“Graffiti art has a hard enough life as it is,” Banksy has said, “before you add hedge-fund managers wanting to chop it out and hang it over the fireplace. For the sake of keeping all street art where it belongs, I’d encourage people not to buy anything by anybody, unless it was created for sale in the first place.” And he has taken pains to repair situations in which the removal of his work has led to destruction. In 2011, he stenciled “This Looks a Bit Like an Elephant” on an oblong water tank on a cliff overlooking the Pacific between Santa Monica and Malibu, Calif., and posted a photo of it on his Web site. The site already had a resident artist: Tachowa Covington had lived in the tank, long abandoned, for seven years. He had kitted it out with furniture and electricity, according to a newspaper article in London in The Independent. He had mail delivered there, too.
But after Banksy added his slogan, the tank was quickly sold by the city to a design agency. Mr. Covington was homeless. When word reached Banksy, he gave Mr. Covington a year’s worth of money for an apartment and bills.
“He helped me so fast, I didn’t have to spend a single day more on the streets,” Mr. Covington told The Independent. “It was like a miracle.”
Later, when the design agency sought to sell the tank, Banksy refused to authenticate it, The Independent said. It ended up in a scrap heap.
Mocking world leaders and notorious dictators is typical fodder for Banksy, and the ex-Soviet premier Lenin got this punk-style mohican makeover way back in 1997 where it appeared outside a public toilet in Weston-super-Mare, approximately ten miles from Banksy’s stamping ground of Bristol.
Flying Balloon Girl is perhaps one of Banksy’s most well known artworks. It was painted on a wall on the West Bank in Israel in 2005 and carries a poignant political message. Many believe that the piece signifies the children trapped by the conflict between Israelis and Palestine’s who are longing to fly away to freedom.
This Banksy piece first appeared on the side of a clothing shop in Toronto in around early May 2010. It depicts a salesman and no doubt aims a dig at a capitalist society where respect for people can often be viewed as less important than commodities. The graffiti lasted only a couple of days before it was painted over by store staff. 0% Interest in People location.
This iconic piece of Banksy artwork first appeared as part of an exhibit in Bristol titled ‘Banksy Versus Bristol Museum’. The original version of Don’t Forget Your Scarf Dear was displayed in an old fashioned style of frame on a sepia mount, the only pop of colour being the son’s bright red scarf. Critics state that while this is not one of Banksy’s more subversive artworks it expresses a simple ideal : that a child should be loved and accepted for what he or she is not because the fit with society’e expectations. It is unclear whether or not this is an outdoor reproduction by Banksy himself or one of many photo-shopped versions with quotes and slogans attached. Comment Pieter: This reminds me of the non-Social Democratic (Labour party), non-Communist (Moscow or Peking direction), non-Green party, Non Marxist, Anarchist, Autonomist radical left in the Netherlands during the seventies, eigthies and early nineties. Punk rockers, leftwing Sharp Skinheads and Squaters. The Punkrocker on the mural carries the Anarchist flag of Autonomism ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomism )
Punks in Amsterdam during the eighties
Dutch Punk girl, Arnhem, 1986, the Netherlands
Dutch Punk rockers in the eighties during a Punk concert in the Eastern Dutch Low Saxon town of Deventer
Originally painted close to the Houses of Parliament in London, the original version of Banksy’s Soldiers Painting the CND sign was confiscated for allegedly breaking laws regarding protests in this area. It has been suggested that it represents the repression of free speech as well as acting as an anti-war protest. The piece was recreated and displayed in a collection at the Tate Britain gallery in 2007.
Ghetto Boy caused something of a stir when it appeared in Hackney in 2009 . It was one of 2 new Banksy pieces discovered in the London area (the other being Last Graffiti) after the artist took a short hiatus from creating new works. Unfortunately this piece has since been removed. Ghetto Boy depicted a small boy in street clothes clutching a ghetto blaster and a teddy bear, with the pavement beneath painted as a dance mat. It is believed this was a comment on gang culture in the area which had seen an increase in child involvement around that time. Ghetto Boy location
One Original Thought is located in Brooklyn, New York on the corner of Jay Street and Water Street. It combines Banksy’s signature style with a quote from philosopher Dioenes of Sinope. A young boy appears to be sitting on an upturned waste basket while writing the quote in red crayon. One Original Thought location
Located in a car park on Broadway, Downtown LA, Swing Girl is another example of Banksy making use of what was already there. The ‘ing’ portion of the parking sign have been whitewashed out to form park and a girl on a swing added to the letter A. It seems clear that it is a comment on how there is a lack of places for kids to play safely in what is a fairly rough area of LA. The artwork appeared in 2010 a few days prior to the LA première of Banksy’s film Exit Through The Gift Shop. Swing Girl location
Government Spies appeared on the side of a house in Cheltenham in April 2014. The mural depicts mysterious 1950’s style agents listening in on a telephone box in reference to former CIA agent Edward Snowdon exposed techniques used by several agencies. The house on which the mural was painted is close to GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) which is the UK equivalent of America’s NSA. The piece was sold by the home owner to a private collector who is preparing to remove the mural, but as of 2 July the local council have placed a stop order on the work for one month. Government Spies Location.
The cleverest thing about Banksy’s Girl and Mouse (also known as Girl on Stool) is the little mouse. The natural decay of the masonry has been used by adding a tail and ears. The piece was created by Banksy on a visit to New Orleans in 2008 along with many others in the city. This piece is still visible although it is fairly faded and the girl has had other graffiti tagged over her. Girl and Mouse location.
In an attack on consumerism, Banksy created Napalm Girl in 2004. It features a reproduction of an iconic photograph of a young girl during a napalm bombing in Vietnam in the seventies. In Banksy’s version the terrified naked girl is caught between Ronald McDonald and Mickey Mouse. The piece was created on cartridge paper and has been exhibited internationally in many different galleries.
Cameraman and Flower appeared on the wall of a Park City coffee shop in the lead up to the premier of Banksy’s film at Sundance in 2010. It represents the lengths people go to in order to preserve beauty, but often lead to it’s destruction as in this case where the cameraman has uprooted the flower in order to film it. 4th St Park City, Utah, USA.
Peaceful Hearts Doctor appeared on a wall in San Francisco in 2010. The piece shows an old fashioned style doctor along with a free hand heart and peace symbol. The artwork was covered with Plexiglass to preserve it, but vandals have since poured black paint inside it which has damaged the doctor. 798 Commercial StSan Francisco, California, USA.
In Summer 2011 one story dominated the British headlines – phone and voicemail hacking by journalists. This visual pun is a tongue in cheek take on that making use of an existing tap on the wall and proclaiming “Oh no.. my tap’s been phoned”.
Once again Banksy has used existing feature to enhance his work. Here the double yellow lines of the road are extended across the pavement and up the wall where they bloom into a flower. The pavement lines have been removed and the painter’s face is mostly obscured with newer graffiti, but the flower is still clear.
Another Park City piece came as something of a surprise when it was uncovered months after its creation when the snow melted in Spring 2010. Rats are frequently used by Banksy in his work. This one is hard to spot due to it being on a planter at ground level on the Main street. 416 Main St Park City, Utah, USA.
This Banksy was discovered on the busy Holland Park Roundabout in the Shepherd’s Bush area of London. It showed the silhouette of a little boy in the act of painting the slogan. This has since been whitewashed and is no longer visible.
In 2005, Banksy designed the cover art for Blur’s seventh studio album ‘Think Tank’. This led many to accuse Banksy of selling out, but nevertheless it is a great example of his work. Ironically, due to a ban on all graffiti related posters by London Transport, Blur had difficulty advertising the album thanks to Banksy’s cover art!
In the run up to the London 2012 Olympics, Banksy created 2 Olympic themed artworks. This one known as ‘Welcome to Hackney’ or ‘Javelin Thrower’ shows an athlete throwing a missile. This is in protest of the decision to add surface to air missile launchers on top of some residential tower blocks in the city as part of the security measures during the games. The location was closely guarded to avoid it being removed.
If First You Don’t Succeed.. features a young man in a gas mask accompanied by the words “If at first you don’t succeed – call an airstrike”. It was discovered in San Francisco and is believed to be poking fun at America’s perceived willingness to call an airstrike on any country who won’t cooperate with them. San Francisco, California, USA.
Banksy seems to be making a comment about how society views street artists like him. While the stereotypical graffiti artist is masked and hooded, some have good intentions. In this mural, the gas mask is on the sinister side, but instead of the artists face, we see a bright and sunny field of sunflowers.
No Trespassing features an Native American Indian sitting on the ground, lamenting the intrusion of the white man and the troubles they brought with them. It appears on a wall in the Mission District of San Francisco in 2010 but was soon marred by other graffiti tags and has now been completely painted over in March 2011.
Many consider No Future to be one of Banksy’s most poignant pieces of art. It appeared on the wall of a private residence in Southampton, but was painted over in November 2010 just one week after discovery. The letter O in the caption doubles as a balloon giving the viewer a dose of irony since balloons are more often a cause of joy for children.
I Love You is one of Banksy’s more simplistic pieces and yet it is one of his most striking. The words ‘I Love You’ are accompanied by an hour glass with a heart shaped pile of sand trickling out of the top part. Does love have a shelf life? Apparently so as this piece which was in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight in 2010 has been painted over.
Banksy is usually most well known for his 2 dimensional graffiti art, but from time to time his installations also cause something of a stir. This broken telephone box appeared overnight in a Soho street complete with an axe and pool of blood. The piece featured in Banksy’s “Exit Throguh The Gift Shop” film, but did it represent the death of phone communication thanks to the birth of social media or did BT get it right when the embraced the work as a representation of their change away from the iconic red phoneboxes to a more modern design.
Banksy’s Space Girl With Bird was one of the pieces commissioned for Blur’s album Think Tank and appears on the cover of a free supplement cd sample given out with The Observer newspaper. The art work originally appeared on a wall in Chicago.
On day 15 of the Better Out Than In tour, Banksy’s posted a controversial tribute to the September 11 attacks. He painted a silhouette of the twin towers and added an orange flower to represent the explosion.
This piece depicts a likeness of Charles Manson hitchhiking. It appeared close to Archway Tube in 2005, but it became the target of rival ‘Team Robbo’ who defaced the piece. It was later semi restored by cleaning off Robbo’s addition, but this led to it being painted out completely and eventually the decision was made to remove the piece completely.
This piece is on a building of Bethlehem and is often grouped with the series of works placed on the Israeli West bank wall during Banksy’s 2005 visit. It features a dove, the iconic symbol of peace, but it is dressed in a bullet proof vest with a red target on it’s chest.
Of all the Banksy artworks on the Israeli West Bank wall, this is the most simple. A perforated line with scissors. Yet it is a powerful statement urging by-passers to cut a hole in the wall and reunite the people.
Fallen Angel is one of the most popular Banksy artworks. The piece is widely believed to be a touching tribute to fellow graffiti artist Ozone to commemorate his death in 2007. The piece was found in Bermondsey Street, London but has since been painted over and is no longer visible.
Nighthawks Foreve is a parody on the 1942 Edward Hopper painting. In Banksy's version, we see a drinken British "yob" disturbing the peace by throwing plastic chairs as the window, symbolising perhaps the differences in modern day values with a previous era. It was created by Banksy in 2005.
Graffiti artist Banksy has opened a brand new hotel, which is located four meters from the controversial wall built by Israel in 2002. Sitting in the West Bank, The Walled Off Hotel is surrounded by the wall and features a number of brand new political pieces and boasts "The world worst view." The project has taken over two years to complete and it is hoped to teach people about Palestine.
Banksy's latest piece in New York shows Zehra Dogan, a Kurdish painter from Turkey. The last jail bar on the art is a pencil and next to the mural, Banksy calls for her realise. The mural is 20m tall.
The other Banksy mural to appear in New York shows a rat running around a clock. The building is set to be demolished to make way for condos. It is currently not know if the mural has a hidden message.