Who knows Banksy identity?
Nobody really know his face, but he is one of the most rated artist of the world and became synonym of guerrilla street art, thanks to his controversial, and often politically themed, stenciled pieces.
Banksy’s street art is satirical and subversive and combine a dark humor with graffiti executed with the stencil technique. His murals of social and political protest have appeared on city walls of all over the world.
Banksy began his career as a graffiti artist in the early 1990s in Bristol. Banksy’s first external wall mural is The Mild Mild West, painted in 1997 to cover an advertisement in the Stokes Croft neighborhood. It depicts a teddy bear who launches a Molotov cocktail with three policemen in riot gear: it is the symbol of the many revolts that have marked the recent history of Bristol.
Starting mainly with freehand works, in late ‘90s, his style developed through the influence of Blek le Rat, one of the pioneer of the street art, a French graffiti artist known for his visual style and political messaging. Rather than using a free-hand painting technique, Blek used stencils to create his images.
In the late ’90s, he began using stencils predominantly, because how he said: “I was quite crap with a spray can, so I started cutting out stencils instead.”
From Bristol, Banksy moved to London, where became involved with artists and collaborators who helped increase his public image and recognition.
Banksy’s works are characterized by strong images, often combined with irriverenti slogans. His work often involves political themes, satirical criticisms of capitalism, war, corporate greed and hypocrisy. Common subjects include monkeys, rats, policemen, children and members of the royal family.
Banksy’s work appeared in strategic public locations and he slso attacked brands from Nike to Tesco.
Banksy enter in the art world
In early, 2000s the biggest name of the British graffiti scene, Banksy expanded his sights and targeted the art world as his next adventure.
Harking back to Blek le Rat’s attacks graffiti attacks on the Paris art world, Banksy took art out of what he saw as stuffy galleries and into the forgotten, seedy places that the art world ignored.
Banksy created his exhibitions of street art in unexpected locations such as abandoned tunnels. “When you go to an art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires.” Banksy wanted art to be available to everyone.
In 2005, Banksy’s work on the West Bank barrier, between Israel and Palestine, received significant media attention.
By the mid 2000s, Banksy was becoming a celebrity and his work was selling for a lot of money.
Banksy is also known for his use of copyrighted material and subversion of classic images
By 2008 a Banksy ‘vandalised’ version of a painting by Damien Hirst sold for over $1.8m.
Banksy adapted the Monet’s famous series of water lilies paintings, to include drifting trash and debris.
Interest in Banksy escalated with the release of the 2010 documentary that he has directed, about his life and works, Exit Through the Gift Shop.
In 2013, to denounce the absurdities of the art market in assessing works of art (including his own), Banksy sold some of his printed works for the street, for $ 60. The lucky buyers weren’t too aware of what they had bought up, at least until the next day, when Banksy put online a video that immediately became viral: today those works are valued at around $ 20,000.
The self-destructing Banksy painting
In 2018 auction house Sotheby’s sold a Banksy’s painting for $1.4 million. The piece was a copy of one of the artist’s most famous works, “Girl with Balloon”, and moments after it was sold, the painting self-destructed, shredding itself while onlookers watched.
In a video, Banksy explained that he had secretly installed a shredder in the frame of the painting to destroy it if it ever went up for auction. Banksy essentially turned the auction itself into a work of art, quoting artist Picasso in an Instagram post: “the urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
But who really is Banksy?
Journalist Craig Williams claims to have convincing evidence that Banksy is actually Robert Del Naja, frontman of the electronic music band Massive Attack. Williams claimed to have identified a correlation between the cities where Massive Attack performed and where the artist’s murals appeared. Banksy, for his part, has never hidden the fact that he was also inspired by 3D, a graffiti artist who at one point in his life helped to found the Massives. However, this is only one of the many assumptions about his identity.
Criminologists at Queen Mary University in London have gone so far as to use a technique called geographic profiling to identify Banksy. According to them it would actually be the street artist Robin Gunningham, a resident of Bristol. Geographic profiling is a sophisticated and reliable statistical analysis technique used in criminology to detect recidivists: according to many critics, Gunningham’s theory today is actually the most plausible theory on Banksy’s identity.