In 2010 Time magazine included him in the list of the most influential people around the world. And it’s surprising considering that no one really knows his identity!
It is impossible to talk about street art without mentioning Banksy. This artist is so well known that he has become a world icon, and so acclaimed that in 2010 Time magazine included him in the list of the most influential people around the world. And it’s surprising considering that no one really knows his identity!
Who is Banksy?
The choice of anonymity has certainly added charm to the oeuvre by Banksy, who today is one of the most important living English artists. According to recent theories, behind the famous street artist there could be Robin Gunningham, an unknown citizen of Bristol, or even Robert del Naja from the Massive Attack, known in the world of graffiti as 3D.
Whoever he is, the people in the United Kingdom adore him so much that his Girl with a balloon was proclaimed the most beloved artwork of the UK, preferring it to those made by art giants such as Turner, Constable and Hockney.
Banksy, Girl with a Balloon, 2002, London, England.
Girl with a balloon became so popular thanks to its simplicity and immediacy, but Banksy isn’t just that. Since the 1990s he has shown the world how irony, provocation and desecration could become political instruments for social denunciation.
As a matter of fact, alongside these ironical and provocative images like Kissing Coppers or Murdered Phone Box, with his works Banksy has turned the spotlight on the Palestinian issue, intervening on the wall that separates Israel and Palestine in the West Bank and last year, before the same wall, inaugurating the “Walled off Hotel”, the desolate hotel with the worst view in the world. Moreover, still on the political issue, he portrayed Steve Jobs in the guise of a Syrian refugee in the refugee camp in Calais, France, and commented on the Brexit with a mural in Dover depicting a worker who, by removing one of the stars from the European Union flag, slowly shatters it.
Banksy, The Son of a Migrant from Syria, 2015, Calais, France.
An anti-institutional artist
Banksy works anonymously and often illegally, making his works stealthily and carrying them out through the rapid and effective technique of stencil. He has made street art easily accessible and has gained a worldwide popularity that, on the one hand, made him a cult artist and, on the other, placed him at the center of a critical debate: Banksy, anti-institutional as he is, was accused of being commercial and of having made his fortune by entering the official art system.
An impetuous artist
Everybody wants Banksy, and his artworks have reached very high prices, although he never bowed to the laws of the market, being averse to the idea of seeing his works hanging on the walls of galleries and museums. Faithful to the principles of street art, which the artist managed to make popular, he aims at keeping his ironical, playful and irreverent art accessible to everyone. More than twenty years have passed since his burst in the art world, but his myth, just as his creative impulse, seems to be unstoppable.