b. 1974 Bristol, UK
Banksy is the UK’s most famous graffiti artist. He is a painter, film director and political activist. The artist has created street interventions across the world. In keeping with the spirit of anonymity and defiance embodied by graffiti and street art, he has never revealed his identity.
Banksy is a provocative social commentator: his work makes bold statements against social injustices. The artist questions structures of power. His message is often anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian and anti-war. His impactful images compel us to reflect on the consequences of our actions, often with humour and sharp wit.
The artist has created site-specific artworks for famous landmarks and intervened in celebrated museum collections. He has surreptitiously hung his pieces in museums including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Natural History Museum, London; the Metropolitan Museum, New York; and the British Museum, London. In 2005 the artist created artwork on the West Bank barrier in the Palestinian territories. In 2006 he painted a living elephant and installed it in his first U.S. exhibition.
In 2013 Banksy held a month long show on the streets of New York. The artist explained that each day in October a new piece of artwork would appear: either an "elaborate graffiti, large scale street sculpture, video installation or substandard performance art." His work included a one-day street stall selling ‘Banksy originals’ for $60 each. The stall was located near Central Park and manned by an elderly gentleman. It took four hours before a single piece sold. Another piece, The Sirens of the Lambs, consisted of a slaughterhouse delivery truck, which toured the meatpacking district filled with stuffed animal toys.
In Wall and Piece Banksy writes, “Imagine a city where graffiti wasn't illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall - it's wet.”