“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” (Banksy)
Banksy is a British street artist and activist who, despite his international fame, has maintained an anonymous identity. Aimed as a form of cultural criticism, the artist often targets established social and political agendas with his witty illustrations produced with stencils and spray paint in cities such as New Orleans, New York, and Paris. “The art world is the biggest joke,” he said. “It’s a rest home of the over privileged, the pretentious, and the weak.” Although details of the artist’s life are largely unknown, it is thought that Banksy was born in Bristol, United Kingdom, c. 1974, starting his career as a graffiti artist in the city. Better Out Than In, Banksy’s month-long residency in New York during October 2013, featured a man hawking the artist’s paintings for $60 a piece outside Central Park. In 2015, Banksy opened Dismaland Bemusement Park, a temporary art exhibition that functioned as a theme park. After a 36-day run, its workers and materials were sent to the Calais migrant camp in France to build additional housing. Despite the artist’s aversion to the art world, he continues to produce works on canvas as well as prints, posters, and T-shirts. The artist’s style and use of cultural appropriation has given rise to a number of other street artists, including Mr. Brainwash and Alec Monopoly. He currently lives and works in the United Kingdom. The question as to who Banksy is continued to reach the headlines when, in 2017, Robert Del Naja, the singer of the band Massive Attack was rumored to be Banksy.