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BANKSY

(? - Present)
Banksy is a graffiti artist from Bristol, UK, whose is known for his stencil work as a street artist. His identity remains a mystery along with his date of birth and birthplace. Although there are some rumors which claim Banksy was born in 1974 as Robert or Robin Banks. His stenciling has drawn attention due to his political messages and locations. Sometimes seen as simple vandalism, his art is often displayed in sensitive locations or areas that have been without public access. In 1990 Banksy began as a freehand graffiti artist as one of Bristol’s DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), with Kato and Tes. He did not adapt the stenciling style until 2000, supposedly after hiding from the police under a garbage truck where he noticed a stenciled barcode. His first exhibition, Existencilism, occurred in Los Angeles in June of 2002 at the 33⅓ Gallery. Banksy’s second exhibition, Turf War, attracted attention and controversy since he displayed animals which he painted. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals deemed the display suitable but an animal rights activist chained herself to railings in protest. Along with Dmote and Shepard Fairey, Banksy’s work was displayed in the Semi-Permanent exhibit in 2003, which had approximately 1,500 attendees in Sydney. Banksy created British £10 notes replacing the Queen’s head with a picture of Princess Diana, and changing the text “Bank of England” to “Banksy of England.” A large quantity of the bills were tossed among a crowd at the Notting Hill Carnival in 2004, which some people tried to use in local shops. In 2005, Banksy created nine images on the Israeli West Bank wall in Bethlehem which was built to protect Israelis from Palestinian terrorism attacks. These images include a ladder which travels up and over the wall, and children who dig a hole “through” the wall. The following year Banksy held the Barely Legal exhibition which contained the, “elephant in a room,” a live elephant painted in pink and gold wallpaper intended to draw attention to the issue of world poverty. Complaints from animal rights activists led the elephant to appear unpainted on the final day of the exhibit regardless of the permit for the elephant display. In 2006, the success of Banksy’s work as a street artist sparked the interest of several emerging street artists. His influence on other street artists, and the possibility of reaching his level of success, was described as, “the Banksy effect,” by artist Max Foster. Notable sales include Christina Aguilera bought a Banksy original of Queen Victoria as a lesbian and two other prints for £25,000, and a set of Kate Moss paintings were sold in Sotheby’s London auction for £50,400. His six silk-screen prints of Marilyn Monroe, done in the style of Andy Warhol, were sold for five times their estimated value. At the same auction a stencil of a green Mona Lisa with real paint dripping from her eyes sold for £57,600. On February 20th, 2007 the Sothesby’s auction house in London sold three of Banky’s works; Bombing Middle England for £102,000, Ballon Girl for £37,200 and Bomb Hugger for £31,200. The next day the auction sold three more of his works includ-

ing Ballerina with Action Man Parts for £96,000, Glory sold for £72,000, and Untitled (2004) sold for £33,600. In 2008, a couple from Norwalk, UK decided to sell their mobile home which had a 30-ft Banksy mural on the side entitled Fragile Silence. The mural, done a decade prior to his rise in fame, allowed the couple to sell the mobile home for 500,000 GBP. They originally bought the mobile home for only 1,000 GBP and allowed the young Banksy to use their home as a canvas in exchange for two tickets to the Glastonbury Music Festival. Banksy hosted an exhibition over the weekend 3-5th of May in London called The Cans Festival. In this urban art festival Banksy invited 39 graffiti artists to join in and paint their own artwork (as long as it did not cover anyone else’s artwork) along Leake Street, an abandoned road tunnel previously used by Eurostar under the Waterloo station in London. Attendees included Blek le Rat, Broken Crow, C215, Cartrain, Dolk, Dotmasters, J.Glover, Ben Eine, Eelus, Hero, Pure evil, Jef Aérosol, Mr Brainwash, Tom Civil Roadsworth and Sten & Lex. In May of 2009, Banksy parted ways with his agent, Steve Lazarides and established Pest Control, a handling service who would be responsible to for the sale of new works and maintain the discretion of his identity. His Banksy vs Bristol Museum show opened on June 13th in 2009 at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. This was his largest exhibition featuring more than 100 works. The show opened with 8,500 visitors on the first weekend and over 300,000 visitors over the next 12 weeks. At the end of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Banksy painted four murals on global warming including one with the phrase, “I don’t believe in global warming,” in which the words were submerged in water. The premiere of the film Exit Through the Gift Shop, directed by Banksy, occurred at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in January of 2010. He created 10 pieces around Park City and Salt Lake City to promote the screening of the film. A similar situation occurred throughout cities in which the film premiered throughout the year including San Francisco, London, Toronto, Ontario, and Detroit. The film was nominated for a 2010 Oscar award for Best Documentary Feature but it did not win. In response to the nomination Banksy created several pieces around Los Angeles. There was speculation as to whether

Banksy would make an appearance at the Oscars if the film won the award In May 2011 Banksy joined a campaign in his hometown of Bristol against the opening of a Tesco Express supermarket. Clashes between the police and demonstrators led him to release a lithographic print which displayed a smoking petrol bomb in a ‘Tesco Value’ bottle. The posters were sold exclusively at the Bristol Anarchists Bookfair in Stokes Croft for £5 each. The money raised was to provide legal defence of those arrested during the riots. Later that year, in December 2011, Banksy unveiled Cardinal Sin at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. The figure was the bust of priests in which the face has a pix elated effect. The display was a statement inspired by the child abuse scandals within the Catholic Church. Banksy’s identity and techniques remain secrets however he mentions his book, Wall and Piece, that traditional forms of graffiti would take him to long and he would either get caught or not finish. Instead he switched to stencils to minimize the time needed on the street. The techniques and sources used to generate the images and stencils are uncertain and there are many artists who criticize Banksy for using the stencils which they see as cheating.

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