Who Is Banksy? Getting to Know Banksy Art
Banksy is an English street artist with a cult-like following lending to his worldwide fame. His work is unmistakable, having taken street art to a level of unprecedented depth. Through his artistic messages, Banksy has been able to become one of the world’s foremost countercultural figures in an era where everything seems manufactured and standardized for mass consumption. Even the least artistic citizens have most likely encountered Banksy art somewhere in their life journey.
The Rise and Fall of Street Art…
In the sixties, grassroots cultural icons were everywhere, springing up in everything from garage and acid rock to fashion in places like SoHo, to the pop art from the New York scene, to the poetry of beats like Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg. It was a wellspring of cultural upheaval that happened so quickly that corporate and business interests had no idea how to capitalize or co-opt the cultural appeal for mass production, except to sign artists to lucrative contracts and hope for the best.
Fast forward a few decades: Madison Avenue has caught up, and the yuppies developed a clever program of “coolhunting” and prefabrication of art and music for the intention of mass production. After the corporations hijacked the music labels, the art festivals, and the television and radio waves, all seemed lost for the spontaneity and creativity of the great movements who saw their works being watered down and sold for commercial purposes. For those in the know, it seemed to be the beginning of the end.
…And Rise Again?
For the hip crowd of any artistic measure, however, all this meant was that there was another obstacle they would have to leap over to get to the next big thing in authenticity. Though The Man may own many of the avenues of mass communication, the most enterprising and creative souls whose messages demand to be heard are making themselves known by any means necessary.
Enter Banksy, an English street artist who rose to prominence in the 1990s in the unlikely wellspring of Bristol. The anonymous artist who operates under the simple mononym Banksy is known for his spontaneous, and highly detailed and beautiful street art, which pops up unbidden on streets and walls all over England and the world, much to the delight of his growing base of cult-like fans.
The Why of Banksy
Hot on the heels of a Graffiti scene that was on the wane after the 1980s, Banksy made a name for himself with his next-level street art, which transcended the styles often attributed to street artists of the previous decade. Banksy’s pieces were monumental examples not of a simple traditional colorful tag with great colors, depth, and shading, but of the incredible detail of a gifted renaissance artist.
Banksy is known for his non-linear approach to art, incorporating techniques as diverse as DaVincian anatomy to absurdist, Dada-ist Pop Art. It’s not uncommon to see the juxtaposition of a beautiful woman’s face punctuated with an exploded eardrum.
Banksy’s ethos, however, also bears mentioning. Much of his art consists of sociopolitical statements (like his depiction of the UK Parliament as a gaggle of Chimpanzees), clever mind-bending epigrams, and attempts to tell the ongoing story of the struggles of the commons. It is this potent brew that makes Banksy stand out as one of the world’s most prominent grassroots artists, and all under cover of anonymity.
From the Streets to the Rooms
Banksy’s fame has contributed to the spike in value of his works, some of which have been physically removed from their origins – even murals – to be displayed in galleries and private collections. Banksy’s work has also been featured on media as diverse as cans of Perrier water.
But perhaps the most overlooked reason for Banksy’s fame is his status as a diamond in a rough; a truly authentic artist with a soulful message who rises among the morass of corporate art production. Banksy has tapped into that immortal element that will likely be forever lost on his corporate copycats: the ability to connect with those who are the subjects of his telling of the authentic human story through his street art.