Introduction to a modern day icon

The world of Banksy

Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based street artist, political activist and film director whose real name and identity remain unconfirmed and the subject of speculation. Active since the 1990s, his satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stencilling technique. His works of political and social commentary have appeared on streets, walls and bridges throughout the world. Banksy’s work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians.

Though Banksy’s identity was well guarded, he came to notice as a freehand graffiti artist in 1993. Using stencils since 2000 to enhance his speed, he developed a distinctive iconography of highly recognizable images, such as rats and policemen, that communicated his antiauthoritarian message. With wry wit and stealth, Banksy merged graffiti art with installation and performance. In the 2003 exhibition “Turf War,” he painted on the bodies of live pigs. At his “Crude Oils” exhibition in London in 2005, which featured altered replicas of the works of Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Edward Hopper, he released 200 live rats in the gallery.

In 2005 Banksy, fully disguised, installed his own works on the walls of museums in New York City and London, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Tate Britain.

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