Persona January, 28th 2021 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 300 - Banksy

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 300 – Banksy
Banksy is a street artist who became famous worldwide for his political and humorous artworks. Although Banksy’s identity is still unknown, there are strong suspicions that the artist is from Bristol (UK).
His art can be found in various cities in Europe, the United States and in Palestinian territories. One of the characteristics of Banksy’s work is that he works with templates, so the graffiti can be applied faster.

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Expelled from school
Banksy is a pseudonym. His real name is Robin Gunningham, born July 28, 1973 in Yate, 12 miles (19 km) from Bristol. At least, this is the opinion of several teachers and former classmates at Bristol Cathedral School. At the age of 14, he became a graffiti artist after he was expelled from school and jailed for petty crime.
But he was careful not to be thrown back into jail immediately and therefore went to work anonymously. He looked shabby in those days: jeans, T-shirt, a silver tooth, silver chain and silver earring. He started using the name Robin Banks, which eventually became Banksy. In the late 1990s, Banksy lived in Easton, Bristol for 10 years. He was part of the underground scene, which involved various artists and musicians. He was inspired by the graffiti artist 3D, also one of the founders of the music group Massive Attack. He moved to London around the year 2000.

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He started using templates to finish his work faster. It happened by chance when he ducked under a stationary train car because the police were chasing him. His work quickly attracted attention. This was due to his catchy and humorous images, to which he often added slogans. The message was pacifist and anti-capitalist, against the establishment and for freedom. He painted animals (monkeys and rats) and people (police officers, soldiers, elderly people, children). His first known large mural was The Mild Mild West, painted in 1997. We see a teddy bear who is about to throw a Molotov cocktail at the police. He also made stickers, sculptures and CD covers. He also began to reproduce and adapt existing art, thus changing its content.

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Steve Lazarides
Initially he sold photos or reproductions of his street graffiti. That was done by the photographer Steve Lazarides who later became his agent. That stopped after a while. However, his public ‘installations’ were regularly resold, sometimes by removing it from the wall on which they were painted. Banksy’s documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop was shown at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Monet’s water lily pond
An example of his subversive paintings is Monet’s Water Lily Pond, in which he painted municipal waste like a shopping cart. Another example is Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, in which a British football hooligan dressed in Union Flag underpants threw something through the windows of the cafe. Banksy also created artworks featuring a lesbian Queen Victoria and satirical pieces incorporating art from Andy Warhol and Leonardo.

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£ 10 notes
In 2002 Banksy had made his debut in America at 33 1⁄3 Gallery in Los Angeles. Two years later he made British £ 10 notes on which he had replaced the queen’s head with that of Diana, Princess of Wales. The text was in ‘Banksy of England’ in place of ‘Bank of England’. During the Notting Hill Carnival, someone threw a big wad of these notes into the crowd, which some then tried to spend in local shops. In 2005, Banksy made nine statues on the Israeli wall in the West Bank during a trip to the Palestinian Territories.
The Banksy Effect
After Christina Aguilera bought an original from Queen Victoria as a lesbian and two prints for £ 25,000 on October 19, 2006, a number of paintings featuring Kate Moss were sold in Sotheby’s London for £ 50,400, setting an auction record for Banksy. The six screen prints, painted in the style of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portraits, sold for five times the estimated price. Journalist Max Foster coined the phrase ‘the Banksy Effect’ to illustrate how interest in other street artists grew thanks to Banksy’s success.

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“I Can’t Believe You Morons Actually Buy This Shit”
On February 21, 2007, Sotheby’s London auctioned three of his works, reaching the highest price ever for a Banksy work at auction: more than £ 102,000 for ‘Bombing Middle England’. Two of his other graffiti artworks, ‘Girl with Balloon’ and ‘Bomb Hugger’, sold for £ 37,200 and £ 31,200 respectively, well above their estimated prices. At the next day’s auction, three more Banksy works reached sky-high prices: ‘Ballerina with Action Man Parts’ fetched £ 96,000; ‘Glory’ £ 72,000 and ‘Untitled (2004)’ sold for £ 33,600. Banksy summarized it on his website with an image of an auction house scene where people were bidding on a photo that read, “I Can’t Believe You Morons Actually Buy This Shit.”
On May 21, 2007, Banksy received the award for Art’s Greatest living Briton. As expected, Banksy did not show up to receive his award. On June 4, 2007, it was reported that Banksy’s ‘The Drinker’ had been stolen.

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Banksy has published a “manifesto” on his website. The text of the manifesto refers to the diary of British Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin, DSO, which is on display at the Imperial War Museum. It describes how a shipment of lipstick is sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp immediately after liberation to help the internees regain their humanity. As of January 18, 2008, this manifesto has been replaced by ‘Graffiti Heroes No. 03’, which describes Peter Chappell’s quest for graffiti in the 1970s.
The opening of the Banksy vs Bristol Museum show at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery on 13 June 2009, featuring over 100 works of art, including animatronics (lifelike robots) and installations; it is his largest exhibition to date, with 78 new works. The response to the show was positive, with more than 8,500 visitors during the first weekend. Over the course of the twelve weeks, the exhibition was visited more than 300,000 times.
In December 2009, Banksy marked the end of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference with four murals depicting global warming. One contained the phrase “I don’t believe in global warming”, the words were immersed in water.


Pop-up boutique
On October 12, 2011, a pop-up boutique of about 25 spray-art canvases appeared on Fifth Avenue near Central Park. Tourists could purchase Banksy art for as little as $ 60 each. In a note on his website, the artist wrote, “Note, this is a one-off. The booth won’t be there anymore”. The BBC estimated that the artwork from the street stalls could be worth as much as $ 31,000. The booth was manned by an unidentified elderly man who, about four hours before making a sale, started yawning and having lunch while people passed by without taking a second look at the work. Banksy wrote the surprise sale in a video posted on his website, noting, “Yesterday I set up a booth in the park with 100% authentic, original signed Banksy canvases. For $ 60 each.” Two of the canvases were sold at auction in July 2014 for $ 214,000.
Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem
In 2017, to mark the 100th anniversary of British control of Palestine, Banksy funded the creation of the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. Open to the public, this hotel contains rooms designed by Banksy, Sami Musa and Dominique Petrin, and each of the bedrooms faces the wall. It also houses a contemporary art gallery.

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Balloon Girl
In October 2018, one of Banksy’s works, Balloon Girl, was sold at auction at Sotheby’s in London for £ 1.04 million. However, shortly after the hammer fell and it was sold, an alarm sounded in the photo frame and the canvas went through a shredder hidden in the frame, partially shredding the photo. Banksy then posted an image of the shredding on Instagram with the caption “Going, going, gone …”. After the sale, the auction house acknowledged that the self-destruct of the work was a joke on the part of the artist. The joke went around the world, with one newspaper claiming it was “perhaps the greatest joke in art history”.
Valentine mural
On February 13, 2020, a Valentine mural appeared on the side of a building in Bristol’s Barton Hill neighborhood, depicting a young girl firing a catapult with real red flowers and leaves. In the early hours of Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), Banksy confirmed on his Instagram account and website that this was his work. The painting was damaged a few days after its release. He dedicated a painting to health workers and donated it to Southampton University Hospital during the global corona virus pandemic in May 2020.

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Rescue boat
In August 2020, it was revealed that Banksy had privately funded a rescue boat to rescue refugees at risk in the Mediterranean. The former French naval boat, named after Louise Michel, an important figure of the French Commune, the ‘French Grande Dame of Anarchy’ is painted pink with an image of a young girl with a heart-shaped lifebuoy.
Banksy is not yet fifty years old. We certainly expect a few things from him in the coming times.
1) Girl with Balloon, 2) The Mild, Mild West, 3) Exit Through the Gift Shop, 4) Water Lily Pond, 5) Night Hawks, 6) Ten Pound Note, 7) Kate Moss, 8) Bombing Middle England, 9) Art filled Walled Off Hotel Bethlehem, 10 ) Banksy

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