The Bristol-born street artist Banksy has achieved worldwide acclaim in recent years for his impressive and often thought-provoking paintings. Using the urban landscape as his canvas, Banksy can create pieces that are comical, political and sometimes challenging, often highlighting a certain situation through the medium of graffiti.
Chances are, you’ve heard of Banksy and seen a few of his paintings – whether in the flesh, in a book or online. But how much do you actually know about the mysterious artist called Banksy?
- Banksy was born in Bristol in 1974, the son of a photocopier technician.
- He claims to have based his work on 3D from Massive Attack, although others have commented that his paintings remind them of the stencil work done by Blek le Rat, who started in Paris in 1981, and Jef Aerosol, who began in France in 1982.
- His identity is still shrouded in mystery and remains unknown.
- Banksy first started stencilling on public streets and walls in the early 1990s.
- When he first started, he was part of DryBreadZ Crew, a Bristol-based street gang.
- In the early days, Banksy’s work was mainly freehand and it was only from the late 1990s onwards that he started using stencils more and more in his work. According to him, he switched to stencilling after he spotted the stencilled serial number of a rubbish lorry that he was hiding under from the police.
- Banksy is often controversial and in an exhibition in 2006 in Los Angeles called Barely Legal, which was said to highlight the issue of world poverty, he painted on a live “elephant in the room”. However, because of complaints made by animal rights activists the elephant appeared on the last day without the pink and gold wallpaper patterns.
- Topics for a Banksy painting are diverse and include the royal family, war, rats and policemen.
9. He made Monet’s Water Lilly Pond his own by adding a discarded shopping trolley and trash to the painting.
10. Banksy does not sell his work through commercial art galleries.
11. In 2004, he printed a batch of spoof £10 bank notes. These featured a couple of differences to the standard run – the Queen’s head was replaced by an image of Diana, Princess of Wales, and instead of “Bank of England” the text read “Banksy of England”.
12. He made his first film in 2010, called Exit Through The Gift Shop, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
13. In 2007, Banksy won the award for Art’s Greatest Living Briton but, naturally, didn’t attend the event to collect the prize in person.
14. A new record sales price for Banksy’s work was set in 2007 when Space Girl & Bird fetched £288,000 at a Bonham’s auction, around 20-times its estimate.
Rob loves the street and urban scene, working for Fuse who sell XCVB, a new street brand.