Banksy is a UK based graffiti-stencil artist, whose work is known for its humor, irony, and social commentary. Although his art is well known, he keeps his identity hidden. Banksy’s reasons for anonymity are unknown. Although many graffiti artists choose to remain faceless behind aliases, this is mainly due to their art being seen as vandalism or for having political messages controversial or subversive in nature.
graf·fi·ti / grəˈfētē
noun meaning writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place.
Who is Banksy?
There are numerous theories concerning Banksy’s identity. The current front runner is that he is 3D (Robert de Naja) of the band Massive Attack. 3D is a graffiti artist, and many of Banksy’s work appears where the band is traveling. Another theory, which also includes 3D centers around the subculture of graffiti artists. Due to anonymity and global reach, they are known to communicate through the internet using blogs to post, receive feedback and gain news on the community. This subculture led to one theory that Banksy is a team of like-minded individual’s all working under the artist’s tag.
Regardless of who he is, Banksy’s work reveals the influences of Jef Aérosol, the first stencil artist to display his work outdoors, and Blek le Rat, often called the father of stencil graffiti. Banksy’s street art has appeared around the world on urban structures and within Museums. His work and messages are inspired by pop-culture images ranging from the simple beggar holding the sign “keep your coins, I want change” to the symbolically powerful image of the naked Phan Thị Kim Phúc walking as she holds hands with Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald. Her image is a replica of the Pulitzer-winning photo by Nick Ut. The photo was taken as several children, including the nude and burnt Kim Phuc, flee napalm bombing by the South Vietnamese Airforce in 1972. In addition to more serious themes, he also has many lighter pieces that still contain a message. The slideshow above contains some of our favorite Banksy pieces.