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11 Extra-ordinary Facts about Banksy

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11 Extra-ordinary Facts About Banksy

There are certainly more than 11 extra-ordinary facts about Banksy…
Well, we chose 11…

 


Fact #1


Everybody knows Banksy’s art, but nobody knows who he is…

Banksy‘s name and identity remain unconfirmed as of today and the subject of speculation. In a 2003 interview with The Guardian, Banksy is described as “white, 28, scruffy casual—jeans, T-shirt, a silver tooth, silver chain and silver earring”.
 
Obviously anonymity is vital to Banksy because graffiti remains mostly illegal. However, with over 10 million followers on Instagram, he is probably one of the most well-known visual artists in the world…
On that matter, one could describe him as the anti-Warhol
“In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”
Warhol’s “prophecy” could not have been more right with the rise of Instagram celebrities our society has created, indeed, today more than ever, everyone is trying to be famous…
But Banksy prefers anonymity.

James Pfaff, Banksy, Monkey Mask Session, 2003
Credit Photo: James Pfaff
Obviously, a lot has been written about who Banksy could be…
He is commonly believed to be Robin Gunningham, as first identified by The Mail on Sunday in 2008, and corroborated by his associates and former schoolmates at Bristol Cathedral School. In 2016, a study by researchers at the Queen Mary University of London using geographic profiling found that the incidence of Banksy‘s works correlated with the known movements of Gunningham. According to The Sunday Times, Gunningham began employing the name Robin Banks, which eventually became BanksyBanksy has always denied it…
There has been alternative speculation that Banksy is Robert Del Naja (a.k.a. 3D), member of the trip hop band Massive Attack. Del Naja had been a graffiti artist during the 1980s prior to forming the band and had previously been identified as a personal friend of Banksy.
 
Obviously, Banksy‘s anonymity is required by his regular graffiti activities that he’s been practicing for his entire career and all over the world.
More importantly, we believe it makes the messaging even stronger, and maybe more universal as nobody can identify oneself with the artist. This deliberate choice did not prevent Banksy from becoming one of the most well-known and sought-after artists in the world, with close to 11 million followers on Instagram, reaching record-heights at auctions. Never has an anonymous artist reached such a level of success and notoriety.

 

 

Indeed, Banksy created some of the most iconic and widely recognizable images in art history… Girl with Balloon, Love Is In The Air.

With its striking simplicity and raw immediacy, Girl with Balloon is now one of the most widely recognizable images created by Banksy. Beating Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire, Constable’s The Hay Wain and Hockney’s A Bigger Splash to the top spot, Banksy’s Girl with Balloon was voted the UK’s favorite artwork in a 2017 poll; a resounding affirmation of the broad and wide-reaching popularity of this undeniably iconic and culturally formidable image.

 

However, it is fairly well-known that Banksy was born in Bristol, and spent his youth in this historical city, which is one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations, and was selected in 2009 as one of the world’s top ten cities by international travel publishers.
In fact, Banksy never totally left his home town even though he is said to have moved to London around 2000, as he comes back regularly to leave some murals.
The city has been able to preserve some of his murals, such as The Mild Mild West (1999), Naked Man Hanging From Window (2006), or Girl with a Pierced Eardrum (2014).
Banksy‘s most important exhibit and retrospective was held at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in 2009. It was an overwhelming success as the Museum welcomed a record 300,000 visitors during the show.

Fact #2


Banksy Is A True Game Changer

On 6 May 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a painting entitled Game Changer appeared at University Hospital Southampton. In crisp, linear detail, it showed a young boy playing with a selection of superhero dolls. In the painting, Batman and Spiderman lie discarded in a bin; instead, the child clutches a new idol. A masked, uniformed nurse soars to the rescue, her cape fluttering and arm outstretched towards the sky.
The picture was accompanied by a note.
 

“Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit,
even if it’s only black and white.”

Game Changer, 2020
At a time when the world has come to rely more than ever on the bravery and resilience of its healthcare workers, the image of the boy and his new hero speaks to an unprecedented global zeitgeist. Banksy created a powerful picture to pay homage to all healthcare workers. Equally, the scene’s quiet innocence captures the simple, universal values that have come to the fore during the pandemic, such as family, home and time spent with loved ones.

 
Christie’s London sold Game Changer on 23 March 2021 for a record GBP 16,758,000 / USD 23,210,000, making this work the most expensive Banksy artwork to ever sell at public auction, with all the proceeds going to support the wellbeing of University Hospital Southampton staff and patients.

Game Changer dedicated to Health Workers

Banksy has supported many causes all along his career, not only through his artistry or calling attention through his global fame, but with substantial amounts of money. It is not the first time an artwork by Banksy had sold at auction to benefit a cause. Mediterranean Sea View sold on 28 July 2020 for close to USD 2.9 million to build a new acute stroke unit and to purchase children’s rehabilitation equipment for BASR Hospital in Bethlehem.
Mediterranean Sea View, 2017
Reworked oil paintings in artist’s frames in three parts
Sotheby’s London, 28 July 2020
GBP 2,235,000 / USD 2,893,578
  
Comprising three found oil paintings, each traditionally framed and depicting tumultuous seascapes reminiscent of Romantic era paintings and present-day imitations, Mediterranean Sea View juxtaposes an historic fine art genre with grim contemporaneity. Banksy reworked the original compositions by adding a slew of hand-painted life jackets and buoys; a visual amendment that evokes mass death at sea. Indeed, as inferred by the work’s title, Mediterranean Sea View alludes to the lives lost at sea during the European migrant ‘crisis’ of the 2010s.

Fact #3


Banksy was one of Time Magazine 100 most influential people in 2010

On 29 April 2010, Time Magazine names Banksy as one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People, together with Lady Gaga, Oprah Winfrey, Zaha Hadid, or Nancy Pelosi. Each essay on those leaders has been written by a major personality from their same world, for Banksy it was by no other than Shepard Fairey.

“Many people recoil at the thought of a guy in a hoodie with a spray-paint can and something to say. Others foam at the mouth when they see the same guy’s artwork auctioned off for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Banksy just laughs at all of it. He has a gift: an ability to make almost anyone very uncomfortable. He doesn’t ignore boundaries; he crosses them to prove their irrelevance.”

“People usually see art as an abstract emotional vehicle, lacking the direct impact of language. Banksy paints over the line between aesthetics and language, then stealthily repaints it in the unlikeliest of places. His works, whether he stencils them on the streets, sells them in exhibitions or hangs them in museums on the sly, are filled with wit and metaphors that transcend language barriers.”

Portrait of Banksy for Time Magazine
 

“Banksy’s work embodies everything I like about art. It’s accessible, public, not locked away. He makes social and political statements with a sense of humor. His latest exploit is Exit Through the Gift Shop, a film about a filmmaker who left off making a film about Banksy to become an art star himself. It sums up the art world perfectly – the authentic intertwined with the absurd.”

Fact #4


Banksy was nominated for an Oscar

Banksy was nominated for an Oscar. He was up for best documentary for his directorial debut film, Exit Through the Gift Shop. The film premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival on 24 January 2010, and it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
 
 
Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film is a 2010 British documentary film directed by Banksy. It tells the story of Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant in Los Angeles, and his obsession with street art. The film charts Guetta’s constant documenting of his every waking moment on film, from a chance encounter with his cousin, the artist Invader, to his introduction to a host of street artists with a focus on Shepard Fairey and Banksy, whose anonymity is preserved by obscuring his face and altering his voice, to Guetta’s eventual fame as a street artist himself (also known as Mr Brainwash).

To coincide with the premiere of Exit Through the Gift Shop, and various other screenings in the US, new Banksy murals appeared in Park City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities all over the US and Canada.
PARK CITY, UTAH – JANUARY 23: Two women admire graffiti artist Banksy’s art work along Main Street during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2020 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
It is not the only time that Banksy was involved with film directing. The same year, Banksy was credited with the opening couch gag for an episode of The Simpsons in 2010. His name appears several times throughout the episode’s opening sequence, spray-painted on assorted walls and signs.

Fact #5


Banksy loves to paint on animals and exhibit them

Banksy has painted on live animals for many of his exhibits: cows, sheep, pigs, even elephants have been painted and exhibited, to demonstrate some of the artist’s messages. Many animal activists have attempted to close some of those exhibits, in vain. Banksy is also an animal activist, he has never had an intention of harming animals.
 
At Turf War in 2003, Banksy painted cows with target signs and even Andy Warhol’s heads…
In fact, Banksy went to a farm in Somerset in July 2003, to paint on cows for his upcoming Turf War exhibition in London. Animal rights activists chained themselves to the railings surrounding the farm. “The cattle are show cattle donated by the farmer and he was happy to lend them” said a spokeswoman for the exhibition.

Anarchy in the West Country

Banksy, Cut It Out, December 2004
 
On October 2005, Crude Oils, held in a shop in Notting Hill in London was also populated by around 200 live black rats that roamed freely within the gallery space.
At Barely Legal, in Los Angeles, in 2006, Banksy painted an elephant to illustrate his manifesto about global poverty.
 

There’s an elephant in the room. There’s a problem we never talk about.

Fact #6


Banksy printed his own currency and it is stronger than the British Pound…

In August 2004, Banksy produced a quantity of fake GBP 10 Pound banknotes, replacing the picture of the Queen’s head with the head of Diana, Princess of Wales, and changing the “Bank of England” to “Banksy of England”. Called Di-faced Tenners, the notes became quite important in the artist’s career as they’ve been an integral part of the authentication process set-up by Pest Control Office (PCO). Each Certificate of Authenticity for Banksy’s original work includes half a Tenner for the owner of the work, and the other half stays with PCO.

Someone threw a large amount of Di-Faced Tenners into a crowd at the Notting Hill Carnival that year, which some recipients then tried to spend in local shops. These notes were also given with invitations to a Santa’s Ghetto exhibition by Pictures on Walls. Individual notes have since been selling on eBay and various auctions at over GBP 1,000.
It is also worth noting that The British Museum announced on February 2019 that they added its first piece by Banksy to its collection, a counterfeit currency that is the Di-Faced Tenner, which will join The British Museum’s department of coins, medals, and other currency (rather than prints and drawings).
Tom Hockenhull, curator of modern money at the museum, said he had been trying for years to get hold of a genuine Di-faced Tenner to add to the museum’s collection of “skit notes”, or parodies of real banknotes. “The problem is, because [Banksy] was effectively producing them as photocopies, anyone else could do that as well, so there was no way to really verify whether they were from Banksy or not.”
“There is a long history of political and social discourse through this type of protest which made us keen to acquire it,Hockenhull said, “From our perspective, it joins a long list of artists who have created, adapted or destroyed currency for the purposes of their work.”

Fact #7


Banksy opened a family-themed park unsuitable for children

Banksy opened Dismaland, a large scale group show modelled on Disneyland on 21 August 2015. It lampooned the many disappointing temporary themed attractions in the UK at the time. Dismaland permanently closed on 27 September 2015. The “theme park” was located in Weston Super Mare, England.
Banksy described it as a “family theme park unsuitable for children.”
The aesthetic of the “bemusement park” was potentially inspired by the “Dismayland” series of paintings created by American artist Jeff Gillette, who also participated in the exhibition.

Banksy created ten new works and funded the construction of the exhibition himself. The show featured 58 artists Banksy invited to participate. 4,000 tickets were available for purchase per day, priced at £3 each. It received 150,000 visitors in the five-week period it was open.
 

Local residents of Weston Super Mare were told that a Hollywood company called Atlas Entertainment was using the location to film a crime thriller called Grey Fox. Signs proclaiming “Grey Fox Productions” were posted around entrances to the site.
Pictures of its construction began surfacing online in early August 2015, and included a “fairy castle and massive sculptures”. Holly Cushing, whose name appeared in the credits of a documentary about Banksy and who is often reported to be his manager, was sighted at the construction site before the opening, which made the project less of a “secret”.
 

Dismaland became Dismalaid (October 2015)

Creating housing from surplus materials and leftover workers

 
After Dismaland closed, the building materials for the project were repurposed as shelters for refugees in the Calais Jungle. Here, Banksy also added murals, including the now iconic, Son of A Migrant from Syria portraying Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple as a refugee carrying one of the first versions of a Macintosh.
 

“We’re often led to believe migration is a drain on the country’s resources,
but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant.
Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over $7 billion a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs.”

 

All the timber and fixtures from Dismaland
are being sent to the ‘jungle’ refugee camp near Calais to build shelters.

No online tickets will be available.

Fact #8


Banksy opened a Hotel in Bethlehem

The Worst View of Any Hotel in the World

 
In 2017, marking the 100th anniversary of the British control of Palestine, Banksy financed the creation of the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. This hotel is open to the public and contains rooms designed by Banksy, Sami Musa, and Dominique Petrin, with each of the bedrooms facing the wall. It also houses a contemporary art gallery.

 
Banksy had travelled to the region as early as 2005 when he left some incredibly impactful murals. In August 2005, Banksy, went to Palestine and created nine stunning murals on the Israeli West Bank Wall. It is the first of many trips the artists would take to the region.
 
In February 2015, Banksy published a 2-minute video titled “Make this the year YOU discover a new destination” about his trip to Gaza.

 

Fact #9


Banksy shredded an artwork that had just sold at auction

In October 2018, a version of Balloon Girl with the artist’s frame got sold at Sotheby’s London for over GBP 1 million. However, shortly after the gavel dropped and it was sold, an alarm sounded inside of the picture frame and the canvas passed through a shredder hidden within the frame, partially shredding the picture.
Banksy then posted an image of the shredding on Instagram captioned “Going, going, gone…”

 

Fact #10


Banksy financed the purchase of a life boat to save refugees in the Mediterranean Sea

On 29 August 2020, Banksy announced he financed a lifeboat to save refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.
 

“Like Most People who make it in the art world,
I bought a Yacht to cruise the Med.
It’s a French Navy Vessel we converted into a life boat Z
because EU Authorities deliberately ignore distress calls from non-Europeans”

THE M.V. LOUISE MICHEL

Fact #11


Banksy sells better at auction than any other artist dead or alive

Indeed, 2020 was none other than an extra-ordinary year for Banksy at auction.
The market for Banksy prints has grown significantly in value and volume, especially over the past 6 years, and even more since the beginning of 2020, with a very strong acceleration during the second half of 2020. All major auction houses are now organizing online sales dedicated to the artist, several times a year.

Banksy Prints 2020 Total Revenues at Auction

The most recent auction results show strong price increases with print values reaching unprecedented heights.
The average value of a Banksy print increased around three-fold between June and December 2020.
This has never happened before in the art market.
Even though some prices have weakened since January 2021, this progression is spectacular. Moreover, Banksy sold 127 artworks over USD 100,000 at auction since 1 January 2021, this is more than any other artist (dead or alive). This compares to 76 for Pablo Picasso, 84 for Andy Warhol, 21 for Kaws, and 17 for Jean-Michel Basquiat.
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sebastien laboureau

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