Saturday, January 5, 2008

Graffitti artist "Banksy" makes social commentary with art

If you visit London and go for a stroll, you may notice some very interesting graffitti adorning the sides of buildings and garbage dumpsters.

This graffiti art is done clandestinely by a man known only by the signature "Banksy" on his work. His true identity is a mystery.

The images always make powerful social and political statements. Here are some images from Banksy's website to give you some examples. Shown here are cops kissing, a cop frisking a little girl, a Guantanamo prisoner, and one called Macdonna which shows the madonna expiring in despair after polishing off an extra value meal.

In addition to these graffitti masterpieces, Banksy has surreptitiously placed paintings in some of the world's snootiest museums. He has walked into museums such as The Metropolitan Museum Of Art and MOMA in broad daylight wearing a hat, overcoat, and a fake beard and glued his paintings to the wall next to multimillion dollar Vermeers and Picassos.

On Bansksy's website there are even videos of him in disguise with his face blurred sneakily hanging paintings in museums. He hangs a small painting of a caveman chasing a shopping cart in the middle of a cave painting exhibit at the natural history museum. He even goes to Disneyland and plants an inflatable dummy dressed as a Guantanamo prisoner near one of the rides. A choo choo train speeds by a few times before the ride is shut down for "security reasons".

Who is this art superhero? Is he a millionaire with plenty of cash for attorneys? Like a fictional superhero he keeps his true identity a secret in order to fight war, poverty, and social injustice. He reminds us of arts potential to call attention to the important issues in a world where most people are more interested in Britney Spear's lack of parenting skills than in how many people are dying of hunger, being tortured, or dying in wars.

He denies claims in the British tabloids that celebrities have purchased his work for huge sums of money. On his website he says he does not sell signed screen prints. Although at a recent exhibition at the Vanina Holesek Gallery in Manhattan signed prints were offered for sale. All the proceeds went to charity (I believe it was an organization that feeds starving children or some such noble cause). I should add that on his website he has a store where everything is free (to download and print). Available for free are posters, art prints, and a t-shirt design that says simply "Destroy Capitalism". Bravo Banksy! It's good to know art is not dead after all. Maybe art can save the world if others are inspired to follow his example. I hope so. This is what art is supposed to be about to begin with.




Visit the Banksy website:
http://www.banksy.co.uk/

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