“TV has made going to the theatre seem pointless, photography has pretty much killed painting but, graffiti has remained gloriously unspoilt by progress.” – BANKSY
Banksy has captured the world's attention and held it since the late 1990s, when his controversial stencilled artworks rose to fame and transformed him into Britain's most celebrated graffiti artist. His contempt for authority is no secret and he continues to display powerful artworks on walls, streets and bridges across the globe. He has also produced a range of highly collectable limited-edition artworks which have become hugely popular.
Banksy seeks to remain anonymous, but varying reports bring up two different names: Robert Banks and Robin Gunningham. It is believed that Banksy was born in Bristol circa 1974, 1975.
Dark humour, satire and his distinctive stencilling technique characterise Banksy's renowned social and political commentaries. Striking images and slogans immortalise his satirical critiques of politics, war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed, which often include apes, rats, policeman and children. Back in 2006, Banksy even incorporated a live elephant into one of his pieces. Limited editions of Banksy prints, which have now morphed into private collections from public walls, are in extremely high demand and continue to generate huge interest at auction.
Banksy collectors feature the likes of Damien Hirst, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jude Law, Macaulay Culkin and Christina Aguilera. Whether plastering cities with his trademark parachuting rat, painting imagined openings in the West Bank barrier in Israel, or stencilling “We’re bored of fish” above a penguins’ zoo enclosure, Banksy creates street art with an irreverent wit and an international reputation that precedes his anonymous identity. “TV has made going to the theatre seem pointless, photography has pretty much killed painting,” he says, “but graffiti has remained gloriously unspoilt by progress.” Banksy has gained his notoriety through a range of urban interventions, from modifying street signs and printing his own currency to illegally hanging his own works in institutions such as the Louvre and the Museum of Modern Art. Most often using spray paint and stencils, Banksy has crafted a signature, immediately identifiable graphic style—and a recurring cast of cops, soldiers, children, and celebrities—through which he critically examines contemporary issues of consumerism, political authority, terrorism, and the status of art and its display.
Banksy is undoubtably the world’s most sought-after and talked about street artist, his work represents his political and social commentary on the world and has appeared on city walls throughout it – from London to New York, from Jamaica to the Gaza Strip. Banksy is not only known for his high-profile murals, he has been releasing limited edition prints for many years, produced in various formats, including signed and unsigned works, as well as artist proofs and gift prints. However, only a very select number of people know exactly what the elusive street artist creates and how many he releases. Some editions, for example, are only made available to VIPs, collectors and friends of Banksy’s who are part of the much-coveted inner circle. This has only made the demand for his limited-edition silkscreen prints and artists proofs in circulation, grow in popularity year on year.
The question on everyone’s lips has long been – who is Banksy? In fact, this has been the biggest question since first Banksy appeared on the street art scene over 20 years ago. The answer is – we still don’t know. Speculation is rife as to the identity of the most elusive urban artist in town.