July 2020

Oops, TFL Destroys A £7.5million Banksy Masterpiece

Our founder Joey Syer commented:

“Its a huge shame and opportunity lost for Londoners that the latest Banksy work has already been removed by the anti-graffiti teams at TFL. Of course, we understand why, and we understand it’s highly likely whoever removed it was following procedure and had no idea they were destroying a Banksy. Had TFL management known, and had the opportunity to remove and protect the installation we estimate it’s value as a complete package to be in the region of £7.5million.

It’s a shame the opportunity was missed to perhaps remove the carriage from the network and turn it into a tourist attraction for all Londoners and the world to enjoy. Sadiq Khan must be kicking himself, but Banksy has yet again proved his ability to entertain and make a statement with such daring and style”
  • Banksy’s rats removed by the anti-graffiti teams at TFL within hours, estimated at £7.5 million. 
  • This week Banksy disguised as a member of the London Underground team marked the walls and windows of the carriages with sneezing rats. 
  • ‘If you don’t mask – you don’t get’ was the comment below his video on his Instagram profile posted this afternoon
  • The video shows the most we’ve ever seen of the illusive Banksy, whilst he seems to usher passengers away while he creates his artwork. 

The artist left a message to Londoners – ‘I get lockdown, but I get up again’.  The reference is to the song Tubthumping by Chumbawamba, the lyrics are “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down”. The song plays at the end of the video. The footage shows the artist in overalls and a hi-vis jacket, disguised as someone employed to disinfect the carriages. There is a fleeting glimpse of the artist’s face, in a mask as he works.

The instagram clip opens with a shot from a video from the Evening Standard titled, “London underground trains deep cleaned ‘every few days’, the film demonstrates workers in full-on protective gear sanitising carriages in London’s tube amid the Coronavirus pandemic. We then see Banksy dressed in a similar outfit, spraying his infamous stenciled rats on various windows, walls and doors. He uses an industrial-grade cleaning spray bottle—similar to those we see spraying sanitiser on public transport and pavements.

The rats are seen sneezing, dropping their masks, using them as parachutes. One of the final shots, now the homepage image for Banksy’s website, shows a rat hanging by its tail while holding a bottle of sanitiser, personifying the creature – as in so many of Banksy’s rat works, with Banksy’s name in dripping blue paint nearby.

This latest stunt puts Banksy is back in his habitat, out of his bathroom and Southampton Hospital, he’s venturing underground to spray-paint messages to London on how to navigate the world post lockdown. Meanwhile if his rats have got you masked and indoors again take a look at the opportunity there is in taking home one of his notorious rats this year, in our Guide to Banksy Rats.

 

June 2020

Banksy To Feature In New Exhibition

It has been announced that world-renowned Street Artist Banksy will feature in a new exhibition being held in his hometown.

The exhibition, Vanguard | Bristol Street Art: The evolution of a global movement, aims to celebrate Street Art and its artists, particularly those from Bristol, demonstrating how instrumental they have been in shaping both British Street Art, and wider the Street Art landscape today.

The exhibition will show seminal works from leading Bristolian, British and Irish artists – including rare works from the late 90’s and some never-before-seen works.

Vanguard will include works by Banksy; the American Photographer Henry Chalfant, who is renowned for his work documenting the American graffiti scenes; Inkie, and Bristol-born Robert 3D Del Naja of Massive Attack fame, who is often cited as one of Bristol’s first street artists, among a number of others.

The exhibition is being run in partnership with the Bristol Museum, which says the show “will explore the evolution of street art in response to Bristol’s unique identity and underground culture – beginning with its anarchist origins in the 80’s and 90’s to the global phenomenon that is street art today.”

“An additional focus on international artists beyond the UK will spotlight the growing relationship between art and sustainability as we re-contextualise the activity from its anarchist beginnings to the global phenomenon we know today.”

The exhibition is being held at the M Shed in Bristol. The curation team is headed by Mary McCarthy, who has worked within the field for the past 20 years. She told Bristol Live: “Vanguard celebrates the unique environment that Bristol provided and its role in generating some of the world’s most notable names in music and art.”

“Considering the ongoing evolution of the global movement, we recognise the importance of the city as the birthplace of British street art.” She added.

The exhibition will run from June 6 through to November 1.

 

March 2020

Banksy: Potential New Mural

The Banksy rumour mill is in over-drive since a new art work appeared on the streets of Southhampton.

The mural is in certainly in keeping with both Banksy’s style and with his political sentiments, but it is yet to appear either on his website or Instagram account.

The mural features a young girl sitting on the floor holding a balloon – the ‘o’ shape of the balloon connecting to the words ‘Our Future’. Inside the ‘o’ of the balloon is the Extinction Rebellion hourglass symbol, which appears to have been painted at the same time as the mural.

This new piece of Street Art covers a spot Banksy has previously adorned with his art: in 2010, he created an almost identical image of a young girl holding aloft a balloon, but previously, this connected with the more pessimistic message of ‘No Future’.

The 2010 piece was vandalised just days later and white-washed over.

Some are making the link between the piece and Greta Thunberg being its new incarnation’s inspiration, as the environmental activist visited Bristol last Friday to take part in a protest against climate change, using the unorthodox vehicle of hot air balloon for her journey.

Gallery owner and Banksy “expert” John Brandler, who bought Banksy’s Season’s Greetings artwork in Port Talbot, talked to the MailOnline about the new piece in Southampton, and the likelihood as to whether it is a genuine Banksy. He said: “It is difficult to judge if it is definitely a Banksy piece from the photos I have seen…but is it not unknown for Banksy to go back to old murals that have been damaged. So it may well be he has gone back.”

“I would say there is a 60 to 70 per cent chance it is his work, but we need to see what he put on his website.”

However, the only person that can say for 100 per cent certain whether it is a Banksy or not, is the man of mystery himself. And so far, he remains silent.

 

February 2020

Banksy Confronts Vandals In Instagram Post

Banksy has put up a post on Instagram directed at the vandals of his new Valentine’s Day Work.

Banksy has told the public and those responsible for defacing his work that he is “glad” the piece has been vandalised. In the Instagram post Banksy said, “I’m kind of glad the piece in Barton Hill got vandalised. The initial sketch was a lot better.”

He accompanied this message with three images of his initial sketches for the mural, giving the general public and unusual glimpse behind his curtain of secrecy and into his creative process.

The art work, dubbed “Valentine’s Banksy”, on Barton Hill in Banksy’s hometown of Bristol appeared in the early hours of the 13th of February, with excited locals sharing the images on social media hoping the work was Banksy original. At midnight on the 14th February – Valentine’s Day – Banksy confirmed it was his own work.

Since then there has been a flurry of interested from the media and from the public coming to visit the mural. However, only days after it was created, the art work was vandalised with bright pink graffiti and the flowers – ivy sprayed with red paint – that had adorned the Marsh Lane street sign were put up for sale on eBay.

Since then, the owners of the house the Banksy was created on had boarded up the mural in the hope of preserving it and making it “available to everyone for years to come and for as many people as possible to come along to take a look and enjoy it.”

Many have expressed outrage at the vandals ruining the image for the public. But in this post Banksy has, true to style, displayed his sense of sardonic humour in response.

 

February 2020

Banksy’s Valentine’s Art Work Vandalised

Just days after Banksy gifted his hometown of Bristol with a new Valentine’s work, it has been vandalised.

A mere 48 hours after Banksy’s new Valentine’s mural appeared in Bristol in the early hours of the 13th February it was defaced by vandals. Banksy had confirmed the artwork was his own in an Instagram post as the clocks turned midnight on Valentine’s Day.

The mural depicted a young girl with one hand holding a sling shot, still mid-action from firing roses – that are in reality ivy spray painted red and attached to the wall giving it a 3D effect –at the wall of the house it was painted on.

Plexiglass had been placed over the mural to protect it from vandals, while allowing the general public and locals to view the mural – a gift to the community – on Valentine’s weekend.

However, it now has the addition of some bright pink lettering, as the plexiglass protecting it was smashed and torn down.

Since then a plank of wood has been used to cover the Valentine’s mural as well as a protective metal fence, meaning passersby are no longer able to see it.

Kelly Woodruff, whose father owns the property in Marsh Lane, said the flowers placed on the ‘Marsh Lane’ road sign as part of the artwork had also been stolen.

Ms Woodruff told the BBC: “It is so sad. They have taken the joy away from everyone.”

She said that the measures being taken – including covering the mural – were only temporary measures, and although this might be frustrating for the public in the short-term the measures were aimed at preserving the artwork for the long-term. This includes getting the artwork cleaned and restored to its original state.

She added, “We want this to be available to everyone for years to come and for as many people as possible to come along to take a look and enjoy it.”

 

February 2020

Banksy Confirms Valentine’s Artwork

Banksy has confirmed the artwork that appeared in Bristol yesterday is by his hand.

In a post on Banksy’s official Instagram page he confirmed the Valentine’s theme piece is his own work. He posted an image of the love bomb as the clocks turned midnight on Valentine’s.

The artwork by the Bristol-born Street Artist portrays a young girl with one hand holding a sling shot, still mid-action from firing roses – that are in reality ivy spray painted red and attached to the wall giving it a 3D effect –at the wall of the house it was painted on.

The artwork appeared in the early hours of yesterday morning and was spotted by James P. Bullock and his girlfriend at around 6.20am. They may have even seen it being created, as Bullock told ITV News West Country in a tweet: “Me and my girlfriend were heading that way to the gym this morning at about 6:20 and there were people with scaffolding up. Thought it was odd and then we walked passed it again this morning!”

The artwork was painted on the side of a house owned by Edwin Simons who, coincidentally, celebrated his 67th birthday on the day it appeared. His daughter, Kelly Woodruff, 37, told The Guardian, “My slight worry is, we’ve got Storm Dennis coming on the weekend, so I really want to try and protect the roses.”

She added that the community has been calling the artwork “Valentine’s Banksy”.

It has already been covered with perspex to protect the artwork from vandals.

 

February 2020

Potential New Banksy Appears In Bristol

This morning Bristol residents have woken up to a potential new artwork by Banksy.

The artwork portrays a young girl in Banksy’s typical monochrome stencil-style, wearing trousers and a skirt and holding a slingshot, her arm still in action having just released a bright red splat of what appears to be a rose – just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The artwork appears in the early hours of the 13th February. And the British Somali Community Association have encouraged visitors to “come and have a look at the creativity”, adding that they “hope it’s a Banksy.”

Social media is already abuzz with photos of the new mural. It was first spotted by James P. Bullock and his girlfriend at 6.20am this morning on their trip to the gym. They may have even spotted it while it was being created.

Bullock told ITV News West Country in a tweet: “Me and my girlfriend were heading that way to the gym this morning at about 6:20 and there were people with scaffolding up. Thought it was odd and then we walked passed it again this morning!”

Another eyewitness who saw the new artwork this morning pointed out that it wasn’t there when he returned from work at around 10pm last night.

However, Banksy is yet to claim the piece as his own.

 

February 2020

Banksy Work Sells For Double Its Estimate

Banksy’s Vote To Love sold for twice its original last night at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auction Evening Sale.

Vote to love by banksy

Banksy’s Vote To Love. Credit: Sotheby’s

The artwork has an interesting history: it was originally a Vote To Leave placard that was left after the 2016 Brexit campaign, until the political Street Artist gave the placard the Banksy treatment. Banksy painted a heart-shaped balloon, covered in plasters, floating above the word ‘Leave’ making it look like ‘Love’.

Banksy entered the work in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition under a new pseudonym: Bryan S. Gaakman – an anagram of ‘Banksy anagram’. It was rejected. So Banksy then entered it again under his more recognisable pseudonym of Banksy and it was accepted.

Banksy ensured the joke continued and in the exhibition catalogue the artwork was priced at £350million, a reference to the Vote Leave bus, which claimed the NHS would gain £350million per week by leaving the EU.

Vote To Love didn’t quite achieve £350million last night, but it did sell for £1.2million. Its guide price had been £400,000-£600,000.

A Bigger Splash by David Hockney

David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash. Credit: oddsock

This was part of a big night for British art and artists, with David Hockney’s iconic Bigger Splash selling for £23.1million. In only 2006 it had sold for £2.9million at Sotheby’s. Bridget Riley’s Drift (1963) sold for £2.3million. A Francis Bacon collage, Turning Figure (1963), sold for £7million. And a small work by Frank Auerbach, Head of JYM (1976), sold for £1.7million.

 

February 2020

London Banksy Exhibition Announced

A huge new Banksy exhibition in London has been announced.

Pulp-Fiction-by Banksy

Banksy’s Pulp Fiction

The Banksy exhibition, The Art of Banksy, will feature 80 art works by the anonymous Street Artist and will be hitting London in April.

The Art of Banksy will feature some of Banksy’s best-known canvasses, silkscreen prints and sculptures. The only work confirmed so far is Girl With Balloon (which was originally stencilled on the walls of Waterloo Bridge in 2004.) However, in previous Art of Banksy exhibitions there have been works spanning Banksy’s career from 1997-2008 Pulp Fiction, Grin Reaper and CCTV Angel.

The Art of Banksy has toured several countries before finally arriving in London having previously toured Tel Aviv, Melbourne, Sydney, Miami and Toronto, attracting over 750,000 visitors according to the Art of Banksy website. The exhibition is comprised of privately owned works by Banksy.

Unlike the Gross Domestic Product Store that popped up in Croydon last year, which featured the stab vest worn by Stormzy’s headline act at Glastonbury, this has not been authorised by Banksy. In fact, the exhibition openly advertises that it is “unauthorized”.

The curator is Steve Lazarides, Banksy’s former photographer and manager until 2009 when they parted ways. Lazarides has claimed they are still on good terms in a recent interview, having self-published a book chronicling his time with Banksy.

The exhibition will take place in an as yet undisclosed location in South Kensington on the 23rdApril.

 

February 2020

Arrests Made Over Stolen Banksy

Three men have been arrested in Paris connection with a stolen Banksy art work. One man has been charged.

The art work was one of Banksy’s most recognisable motifs: a stencilled rat, this one with its mouth covered by a handkerchief, and its hands wielding a box cutter. It had been created on the back of a road sign outside the Centre Pompidou in June 2018. It vanished overnight in September 2019 and hasn’t been seen since.

The work was created to mark 50 years since the 1968 protest year when there were demonstrations against the then president Charles De Gaulle. This year also marked the time and place Banksy hailed on Instagram as “the birthplace of modern stencil art”. When the Street Artist Blek Le Rat, “the father of graffiti”, started stencilling his motifs (rats) over the city of Paris.

The Centre Pompidou, one of Paris’s finest museums, filed a complaint for destruction of property. Witnesses claim they saw two men arrive with a forklift truck, only to painstakingly cut the stencil out of the road sign – leaving a large, Banksy-shaped hole. They were caught on camera by residents who were woken up by the commotion.

One man has since been charged with “stealing a cultural asset”. Although two other works of art by believed to be by Banksy were recovered, the stencil from the Pompidou is still at large.

The first work recovered is believed to have been stolen seven months prior, and was Banksy’s homage to the victims of the Bataclan terrorist attack in 2015. The other, apparently an anti-capitalist statement, is of two businessmen offering a dog a bone having just sawed an animals leg off.

Those investigating are trying to establish whether the works retrieved are Banksy originals or copies.

 

January 2020

Banksy’s Love Letter To The EU Up For Auction

Banksy’s love letter to the EU is going up for sale a few days before Valentine’s Day.

Vote to love by banksy

Banksy’s Vote To Love. Credit: Sotheby’s

In a timely auction, just over ten days after the UK leaves the European Union and a few days before Valentine’s Day, Banksy’s Vote to Love is going up for auction at Sotheby’s UK.

Continuing the overtly political theme to his oeuvre, the anonymous Street Artist created the artwork in 2018 by vandalising one of the “Vote to Leave” placards from the 2016 Brexit campaign.

The placard was given the Banksy treatment, with a red heart-shaped balloon sprayed floating up past the placard’s slogan, seemingly changing the word “leave” to “love”. Sotheby’s calls the work “a message of optimism at a time of increasing divisiveness in global politics.”

Surprisingly, the piece was initially rejected by The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition 2018 show after Banksy originally submitted the work under the pseudonym Bryan S. Gaakman – an anagram of ‘Banksy anagram’.

Unsurprisingly however, when it was re-submitted – this time under more renowned pseudonym of Banksy – it was snapped up by the show. True to style, Banksy continued his prank by pricing his Vote Love piece in the exhibition catalogue at £350million – this was the amount plastered on the notorious “Vote Leave” bus which claimed that Brexit would save the NHS £350million per week.

The work (signed and dated) is now estimated to achieve a fraction of that price at £400,000 to £600,000. But, as the well timed sale of the piece will be less than two weeks after Britain’s exit from the EU, how much it will achieve in reality remains to be seen.

Vote to Love will go up for auction on February 11 as part of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction, alongside Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Yves Klein, Bridget Riley and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

 

January 2020

New Banksy Exhibition Announced

A new The Art of Banksy exhibition has been announced.

Love-Is-In-The-Air-by Banksy

Banksy’s Love Is In The Air (Flower Thrower)

The Art of Banksy exhibition has already toured a number of countries, having previously graced Amsterdam, Melbourne, Miami, Toronto, Berlin, and Paris. Now it is heading to the Godot Institute of Contemporary Art in Budapest, Hungary.

The Art of Banksy features 80 works by the anonymous Street Artists including Laugh Now, Girl With Balloon, Pulp Fiction, Flower Thrower, Monkey Queen, Flag Wall, Soup Can. All the works come from a private collection.

Zoltán Sáfár, founder and owner of the Godot Institute for Contemporary Art, told Hungary Today that “The Art of Banksy Exhibition brings us works of Banksy that have appeared on weathered plaster, empty brick walls, and overpasses from around the world, and rethinks the works of an unknown genius to bring their essential message in the form of paintings, photos, and prints.”

Laugh-Now by Banksy

Banksy’s Laugh Now

The Art of Banksy exhibition openly advertises that it is unauthorised, as Banksy himself has previously announced on his website “members of the public should be aware there has been a recent spate of Banksy exhibitions, none of which are consensual. They‘ve been organised entirely without the artist’s knowledge or involvement.”

However this has not put off attendees eager to catch a glimpse of the world-famous artist’s work, which spans the years from 1997 to 2008 in the exhibition.

The exhibition will be held in the Tesla Loft of the Godot Institute of Contemporary Art, Budapest from 1 February through to 30 April.

 

January 2020

Man Believes He Has Found New Banksy Artwork

A man from Liverpool claims to have found (and taken) a new Banksy artwork.

Darren Gee uploaded footage of the artwork he attributes to Banksy after removing it from a wall on Wednesday night.

The wall the artwork was removed from is situated opposite Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. The artwork features a monkey holding a paintbrush and wearing a sandwich board, on which a sign reads ‘The Streets Are My Gallery!’

The artwork is in Banksy’s trademark stencil-style, and Gee shows on the back of the mural ‘Banksy’ stencils of the artists name “where the glue was”. But crucially, there has been no word from the artist himself (Banksy usually posts his new artworks on social media to prevent copycats, and there has been no sign of the new artwork there), or any authentication from his handlers Pest Control.

Gee has requested authentication of the artwork but believes it is genuine, saying: “He put it right facing Liverpool’s art gallery, stashed, glued onto the wall hidden, and my little eyes found it.” Gee added, “I’m hoping and praying to God that it’s a genuine article because if it is it’s a life-changer.”

It is thought the removal of the artwork has been reported to Merseyside police.

Banksy has many imitators, and the number of fakes increase year on year. Banksy himself has previously revealed that millions of pounds worth of art attributed to him is fake. This is why it is so important for any suspected Banksy artwork to be authenticated as the art market has become much more discerning in recent years, and fake Banksy’s are very easily rooted out if they are attempting to be sold without authentication.

Love Plane by Banksy

Banksy’s Love Plane. Credit: KylaBorg

If this turns out to be a genuine Banksy it would not be his first gift to the city of Liverpool. Banksy has also gifted the city with works including a skywriter plane painting a heart-shaped trail dubbed, Love Plane, which was daubed on the wall of a car park; and Liverpool Rat, which was painted outside a derelict pub.

The Liverpool Echo contacted Banksy’s representatives for comment. We wait to see if Gee’s find is the genuine article, or, if Pest Control does not authenticate it, we will have to assume it is just another fake.

 

January 2020

One Of Banksy’s First Commercial Prints To Go On Sale

One of Banksy’s first commercial prints is set to go on sale next week.

Rude Copper by Banksy

Banksy’s Rude Copper

Banksy’s Rude Copper (2002) is believed to be one of his first ever screenprints. It features a policeman in front of a wall of graffiti, sticking his middle finger up at the viewer.

It will go up for auction with eight other Banksy works at Forum’s Editions and Works On Paper Auction next week and has an estimate of between £70,000-90,000. It was purchased in 2003 at Sydney’s Semi Permanent exhibition for AUS$400.

Rude Copper is a numbered edition of 250. Of that 250 only thirty were signed and even fewer were sprayed with the ‘FUCK THE POLICE’ tagline.

According to the description the image: “questions the traditionally romanticised image of the friendly neighbourhood bobby on the beat, instead warning us to be wary of authority. The image also parodies the cat-and-mouse relationship between graffiti artists and the police’s efforts to crack down on the vandalism of public spaces.”

Morons by Banksy

Banksy’s Morons

There are eight other Banksy artworks appearing in the sale, other highlights include Napalm, the distressing image of a naked Vietnamese girl crying after a Napalm bombing and holding hands with Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald; Love Is In The Air, where a young man with his face covered by a bandana is caught mid-action as he throws a bunch of flowers instead of a weapon; Morons (Sepia), which depicts a room full of people bidding at an art auction; and Monkey Queen, a monkey wearing a crown in front of a mod-style blue, red and white target. All in Banksy’s typically subversive style and tone.

The auction will take place on January 21 at the Westbury Hotel.

 

January 2020

Banksy And KAWS Auction Announced

In their first auction of the decade, Phillips will be selling artworks from two of the century’s most hotly-sought after artist’s: Banksy and KAWS.

Laugh-Now by Banksy

Banksy’s Laugh Now

In a selling exhibition titled Ten Monkeys and a Dolphin: Banksy and KAWS, Phillips will bring together a total of twenty artworks from the artists, including both well-known artworks and some of their lesser-known paintings, prints and sculptures. The pieces from the two artists will have price tags attached ranging from $25,000 to an estimated $4 million.

Last year both artists broke records with their sales. Banksy’s Devolved Parliament (2019) sold for $12 million at Sotheby’s in London. And KAWS’s The KAWS Album (2019) sold for $14.8million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, almost fifteen times its original estimate.

Although the Phillips’ head of private sales, Miety Heiden, has said the artists’ previous year’s sales were largely anomalous, the two artists’ work have sold for far more than their original estimates on several occasions, so the price tags attached on the works in Ten Monkeys and a Dolphin: Banksy and KAWS could ultimately be exceeded.

“The market is very deep for both these artists,” Heiden told Artnet News. “We see more and more people coming into this market every day, but it’s still not at the price levels of Warhol or Basquiat, so it’s still very accessible for a big group of art collectors.”

All twenty artworks are reportedly form one anonymous European collector. This is the same European collector who paired with Phillips last year to bring Taipei the Banksy exhibition, Banksy: The Authentic Rebel, with four works from the show on sale in this exhibition.

Among the exhibition will be Banksy’s infamous Laugh Now (2002) in which a chimpanzee wears a sandwich board that reads: “Laugh now but one day we’ll be in charge.”

Ten Monkeys and a Dolphin: Banksy and KAWS will be on view in New York from January 14 through to February 10. Because of the higher price tags the show is not expected to sell-out, but the popularity and demand of these artists never ceases to surprise.

 

December 2019

Banksy’s New Artwork ‘Scar Of Bethlehem’

In a few of days it will be Twelfth Night, and the Christmas decorations will have to come down. But the ones Banksy created will remain as works of art.

The Christmas period was a busy one for Banksy. First we saw his mural God bless Birmingham highlighting homelessness in Birmingham. He then unveiled a nativity scene called the Scar of Bethlehem in his Walled-Off Hotel in Bethlehem.

The nativity scene, or Banksy’s spin on it, has all the familiar characters: Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. But instead of the Star of Bethlehem above them in a clear night sky, there is a bullet hole in a grey wall, on which ‘Love’ and ‘Peace’ are sprayed in life-like graffiti.

The grey wall is the boarder wall that divides Israel and Palestine – the wall the Walled-off Hotel overlooks. When the hotel opened two years ago, Banksy advertised it as having the “worst view in the world”.

Talking to The Guardian about the piece, the Walled-Off hotel’s manager, Wissam Salsaa, said, “It is a nativity. Banksy has his own contribution to Christmas.”

“It is a great way to bring up the story of Bethlehem, the Christmas story, in a different way – to make people think more.”

Renowned for using Street Art as a vehicle for political activism, this isn’t Banksy’s first interaction with the wall. In 2005 he made a secret visit to Palestine to paint a girl holding balloons, being lifted above the dividing wall. It is believed to represent the girl’s dream of being lifted to freedom above the Separation Wall.

Ten years later, in 2015, Banksy made a secret visit to the Gaza Strip to create five murals on the bombed-out rubble, including a kitten playing with a ball of rusty wire and the Greek tragic heroine, Niobe, crying over the ruins.

On this new artwork Salsaa said, “Banksy is trying to be a voice for those that cannot speak.” That he is “creating a new model of resistance through art”.

And as we take down the decorations this weekend, Banksy’s contributions to the festive period will remain well in to the New Year, and beyond.

 

December 2019

Complaints As Banksy’s Mural Not Given Deserved Spotlight

After being kept under lock and key for seven months, Banksy’s Season’s Greetings went on display last week at the Ty’r Orsaf building in Port Talbot, Wales, with the council under fire for the organisation and scheduling of the exhibition.

Seasons Greetings by Banksy

Banksy’s Season’s Greetings. Credit: FruitMonkey

Banksy’s eye-catching mural going on display, in what should have been a festive gesture, has not been well-received. Local residents and art lovers from further afield were given a mere 48 hour’s notice before Season’s Greetings went on display. This was the first time the public had been able to view the art work since the 4.5 tonne mural was removed from steelworker Ian Lewis’ property in May.

The short-notice announcement wasn’t the only problem in many people’s opinion, the limited opening hours available to view the mural – 11am-3pm, Wednesday to Friday – amounting to a total of 12 hours, when many who would have liked to see the mural would either be at work or at school.

Season’s Greetings depicts a young boy wrapped up warm, sticking his tongue out to catch the ash falling like snow from the skip fire beside him. When the mural was still on Lewis’ property it attracted tens of thousands of visitors, with 24 hour security being employed, and souvenirs being sold. The potential industry for the town seemed exponential.

Paul Jenkins, a documentary maker making a film about the mural and the Port Talbot’s response to it, told The Guardian at the empty Ty’r Orsaf building: “I love the piece…But in here it does seem a bit like a caged beast taken out of the wild.”

Nigel Hunt, a Plaid Cymru councillor, told The Guardian he felt the failing was the responsibility of the Labour-controlled. “Some of them are like characters from Charles Dickens. We had the global spotlight on us. This is a modern masterpiece and Banksy chose us to be part of the narrative. So much more could have been done,” he said.

The mural was bought for a six-figure sum by art dealer John Brandler under the condition it would remain in the town for a minimum of three years to enable to the area to shine, and to attract visitors from near and far to the town. But Brandler said he was “saddened” to find this has not been the case.

The area is notoriously short of resources, which is reflected by the limited opening hours to visit the piece due to security costs, and the gallery space not having been painted. As Street Artist Craig Jenkins relayed to The Guardian, “It’s understandable in a town that has been hit by austerity and where they can hardly pay for Christmas lights. I hope in the end we’ll be able to do something cool here.”

This was echoed by councillor Annette Wingrave who said, “With security, staffing and other costs, the council cannot do this alone but it is hoped that working with others, we can come up with a solution.”

Thanks to the public outcry however, there are plans for a more permanent display, with the potential to create a gallery around the art work, as had been the original plans of Brandler, who said those intentions had previously been “frustrated” by the council.

 

December 2019

Interview Reveals Banksy’s Trade Secrets

A week after Banksy gifted the UK with a new mural titled God bless Birmingham to highlight homelessness, his former agent, Steve Lazarides, has revealed how Banksy “gets away with it” in a new interview with The Guardian.

With Banksy’s blessing, Lazarides recently self-published a book called Banksy Captured. The book is filled with Lazarides’ photographs from the whirlwind eleven years Lazarides spent as Banksy’s partner in crime, when “we were lawless and did just what we wanted,” he says.

In the interview, Lazarides reveals several of Banksy’s secrets. When asked how they executed so many risky Street Art operations without getting caught, Lazarides says, “The secret is hi-vis jackets and traffic cones. Nobody stops you if you have them.”

Remembering another of their tricks to avoid Banksy getting caught Lazarides says, “Once I gave him a letter saying he had permission from a film producer to paint a wall. And I would be the film producer, armed with a burner phone. If I got a call, I was primed to say, ‘Sorry mate, I meant him to do the other side of the street.’”

Banksy and Lazarides have since parted ways, which Lazarides denies was a falling out, but instead tells The Guardian: “I’m bipolar and he’s obsessive. We’d gone as far as we could together.”

The pair still communicate with each other, and Lazarides remains loyal to Banksy, saying they both still have mutual respect for one another. “How do you define greatest?” Lazarides asks, “By money? No, by recognisability. And by that criterion, he is the greatest. Forget Warhol, forget everybody except Rembrandt and Van Gogh. He’s a genius.”

With media and public interest in Banksy only increasing, his identity remains a hotly contended topic. When asked the identity of the enigma many have believed to be men from Robin Gunningham to Gorillaz founder Jamie Hewlett and Massive Attack’s Robert ‘3D’ del Naja, will Lazarides finally spill the beans? “I’ll never give him up,” he replies. “It’d be like telling a four-year-old Santa doesn’t exist. If he did reveal himself, no one would believe him. They’d be like, ‘Course you are, mate, course you are.’”

Banksy’s latest artwork – which was defaced hours after it was painted, despite protective barriers – is accompanied by an atmospheric film on Instagram showing a homeless man named Ryan lying on a bench, about to be carried away by two of Banksy’s reindeer. It has been viewed over 3.5 million times since it was posted last week, showing how Banksy continues to evolve with technology to get his message across.

 

December 2019

Banksy’s Christmas Message – Under Plexiglass

Just a few hours after it was unveiled on his Instagram account, Banksy’s latest artwork was ‘vandalised’, and has now been put under the protection of plexiglass. The work, which depicts two reindeer harnessed to a public bench in Birmingham’s Vyse Street, was first presented in a  video – with over 3 million views at the time of writing – featuring a homeless man named Ryan, with the caption “God bless Birmingham. In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter – without him ever asking for anything.”

The ‘vandal’ – which may have even been Banksy himself adding the finishing touch – jumped over the barriers in front of the work and – perhaps fittingly – added a red nose to the reindeer.

The work was sprayed on the side of a wall belonging to the railways who have now taken extreme care in guarding it. Talking to the BBC, David Golding of Network Rail said: “As a railway family our hearts go out to the homeless, especially at this time of year. Banksy’s wall art has captured their plight so well. It’s right we protect it so everyone can see it. We discourage any graffiti and we spend a lot of time removing it from around the network… but it’s not every day we get a bona fide Banksy.”

The work is now being hailed as a consciousness raising piece, highlighting the plight of the homeless in Birmingham and around the country amidst devastating cuts to social housing and NHS services that have left many struggling. Landing in the middle of an election week, Banksy’s latest work is as ever on point when it comes to timing and reflecting the state of the nation.

WATCH NOW

 

December 2019

Infiltrating The Institution: Stormzy (And Banksy) At The National Portrait Gallery

This week the National Portrait Gallery in London unveiled the latest addition to their collection, a powerful portrait of Grime artist Stormzy by Mark Mattock. On his head are the letters HITH – which stand for ‘heavy is the head’ (that wears the crown) – in a gothic font that recalls early Renaissance devotional painting. The portrait was also chosen as the album artwork for Stormzy’s upcoming album of the same name. 

The rapper is shown holding a stab vest emblazoned with a Union Jack in his hands. The vest was of course made for Stormzy by Banksy, for his set at Glastonbury this year, in which the star famously enjoined the audience to chant ‘Fuck Boris’ after an impassioned speech about the current political climate.

With this work we can see the importance of the vest to Stormzy, and its power as a symbol of a ‘broken Britain’ which has left millions of people struggling with poverty, structural racism and a lack of opportunities. Now a part of music and art history, an edition of the stab vest was recently sold in Banksy’s Gross Domestic Product online shop for just £850 after being exhibited at an installation of the same name in Croydon, Stormzy’s birthplace, with the description: ‘A version of the “John Bull” English gents waistcoat updated for modern times. This customised body armour is capable of stopping bullets up to .45 calibre and is fully stab proof.’

Commenting on the acquisition, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, Nicholas Cullinan, described the portrait as a ‘contemporary intervention’ into the traditional collection. “Stormzy has undoubtedly had a significant influence on British culture today,” he explained, “both through his music and work with minority groups and young people, and we hope our visitors will enjoy the juxtaposition of this new work with historic paintings of influential figures from the Victorian era, from politicians, royalty and radicals to artists, sporting heroes and singers.”

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December 2019

Banksy Could Help Tackle London Knife Crime Through Art, Claims Meisterdrucke Fine Arts

The Austria-based Fine Art Studio believes in street art’s potential to make a positive change. Meisterdrücke’s team of experts are calling on Banksy to use his reputation as the world’s most well-known urban artist to take a stance against growing gang-related knife crime in London.

The epidemic continues to be a problem with 130 recorded stabbings in 2019 (compared to 132 last year) with experts listing root causes such as unemployment and low financial stability but still not having agreed on a solution.

Meisterdrucke Fine Arts suggests creativity and art can provide guidance and progressive ways of self-expression for young people and they urge Banksy to use his status to make some form of public statement such as a video or an artwork denouncing knife-crime, motivating London’s youth to choose a different path. They are also proposing for the Mayor of London to develop an engagement program with local communities in the form of street art workshops to channel young people’s energy creatively, relying on art’s statistically proven therapeutic qualities to help prevent street violence and its causes.

 

November 2019

Art For The People: Banksy In Vegas

While it has been labelled as yet another ‘fake’ exhibition on the artist’s website, Banksy: Genius or Vandal is attracting over one million visitors to its latest iteration at Immersion Vegas in the city’s Fashion Show mall.

The show brings together over 70 artworks from collectors around the world including a print of the iconic Girl with Balloon – a version of which was famously shredded during an auction at Sotheby’s last year – Stop Esso, a mural on a brick wall showing a couple seemingly enjoying themselves at the beach, and a tender and affecting early work entitled Rose Trap, which was originally sprayed on a wall in Banksy’s hometown of Bristol and later framed by local residents.

The popularity of the show, which opened in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Madrid, Lisbon and Hong Kong prior to this, proves Banksy’s enduring appeal among a wide audience of collectors and art lovers alike. With his continued attacks on corruption, surveillance and capitalism he remains at the forefront of a street art movement that shines a light on the darker sides of our society while at the same time producing aesthetically striking work that is infused with biting wit.

With the title Genius or Vandal the exhibition appears to be engaging in the age old debate as to whether work by Banksy and his contemporaries belongs in a gallery, or, as organiser Christoph Rahofer put it, “Is this street art or is this art art?” Whatever the answer, the popularity of exhibitions such as these makes it clear that Banksy’s art is about accessibility above all; whether it appears on the street, an institution or a mall, it never fails to appeal to a range of people rather than a small art world elite. As Rahofer said, “You don’t have to be an art expert to understand the message,” and his messages are more relevant today, in this period of political unrest and societal divisions, than ever before.

 

November 2019

Banksy’s The Drinker, Is Withdrawn From The Sotheby’s Sale With Hours To Go

Withdrawn due to legal issues, deemed a fake, or yet another PR stunt?

The Thinker by Banksy

Banksy’s The Drinker. Credit: Sotheby’s

Despite Sotheby’s consulting the Metropolitan Police and the Art Loss Register it seems they got cold feet. Sotheby’s commented to our sources today that ‘the only comment Sotheby’s can make at present is that is was the decision of Sotheby’s’. Estimated at £1m Banksy’s homage to the Rodin sculpture was the highlight of their upcoming contemporary art auction before being mysteriously withdrawn from the sale with just minutes to go. The work was much mentioned in the press over the weekend, with artist Andy Link claiming the piece was ‘stolen’ from him and therefore being sold illegally.

The Drinker is a satirical interpretation of Rodin’s The Thinker, the famous statue of a man in deep contemplation. The work originally appeared in a small square off Shaftesbury Avenue, London in 2004, without permission, in true Banksy style.

‘Art Kieda’ as Andy Link is better known, kidnapped the work, and registered his find with the police, calling Banksy for a ransom of “£2 towards a can of petrol” to set it alight. Apparently Link kept the work in his garden until 2007 when the sculpture was stolen.

The statue resurfaced in the Sotheby’s auction catalogue for today’s Contemporary Curated sale, with an estimated sale price of £750,000 to £1m, the top lot. Sotheby’s said it was satisfied the seller had a legal right to put the piece up for auction.

Sotheby’s sale notes say: “The work was mysteriously retrieved from Art Kieda’s lock-up in an anonymous heist which left AK47 with nothing but the abandoned traffic cone from atop The Drinker’s head,”.

“I kidnapped [The Drinker] on principle,” Mr Link told The Guardian last week: “Don’t tell me that I’m a tight Northern b****** … It wasn’t done as revenge, it was done as one-upmanship … All I wanted was to swap the statue for a canvas. I didn’t damage the statue, I didn’t damage Banksy’s reputation. I did him a big favour in my opinion….I’m a man of honour and respect and he disrespected me in a way I won’t allow.”

Today, post the sale the results seem to indicate the work was withdrawn. Lot 24 removed from the list. A crushing blow to Sotheby’s, their top lot and catalogue cover piece. What happened to The Drinker? Did Andy Link’s layers get busy in the 24 hours prior to auction, or did Sotheby’s simply decide it wasn’t worth the risk? Was the seller’s agreement not signed in time? We watch and wait, it seems there is never ending drama for Banksy fans, as this comes as the newest of a quick succession of high profile Banksy market events in recent weeks, including Gross Domestic Product, and the sale of Devolved Parliament.

 

March 2017

Banksy In Bethlehem

This morning Banksy fans on Instagram were greeted with his first post since Dismaland a year and a half ago.

The image was a mysteriously ethereal, seemingly conceptual capture of falling white feathers on a teal background. Banksy’s fans reacted to this cryptic post with a variety of excited responses. Varying from:

‘What does it all mean???’

‘Where you been homeboy?’

‘OOOMMGGG HES BACKKKK’

‘Bansky we need u..the world needs u.’

To ….

‘WTF? Modern art shite!’

In actuality, the image of white feathers – symbolically associated with peace, and death – was a detail of a mural Banksy has painted for his latest project — never one to do things by halves this project is: hotel, protest and art.

The clipped image is taken from a bedside mural – depicting what appears to be an Israeli soldier and Palestinian youth engaged in a vicious pillow fight — in Banksy’s new hotel, Walled Off Hotel. The hotel, a real hotel and not an art stunt, is located on the troubled barrier between Israel and Palestine in the city of Bethlehem, and contains with 10 rooms (9 rooms and one suite). The situating of the hotel on this barrier is to encourage tourism to Holy site of Bethlehem again, including tourism from Israelis, who are legally banned from visiting the city; but handily, Banksy has situated the Walled Off Hotel a little outside Bethlehem, where Israel still has control.

Walled Off Hotel by Banksy

Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel. Credit: subherwal

As well as the ‘pillow fight’ mural, other rooms include works clearly inspired by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, protest works saying ‘Free Palestine’ and a number of other artworks in various mediums situated around the hotel. The 10 rooms will be open to the public to reserve on the hotel’s website later this month; and the hotel will host exhibitions by Palestinian artists (with limited ability to travel) to help them gain an — otherwise out of reach — international audience.

The parallel between the Biblical tale of Mary and Joseph searching for an inn in Bethlehem (in many ways, refugees themselves) and the few rooms available in this hotel, should probably not be overlooked either.

 

June 2016

Banksy Paints A Piece At A Bristol Primary School

The notoriously naughty street artist, Banksy, went back to school this week, to Bridge Farm primary school, the artist’s home town of Bristol.

Bristol Primary School by Banksy

Banksy Mural at Bridge Farm Primary School in Bristol. Credit: dullhunk

Overnight the artist left a large child-like doodle of a school girl rolling an incredibly realistic flaming tyre sprayed across the 14 ft wall of the playground for the children to return to after half-term.

The mural is a gesture of gratitude from Banksy as the school named one of their houses after him. Banksy had been contacted by the pupils before Easter informing him they’d voted to rename one of their four school houses in his honour. The houses were named after “Bristol legends”, and the others include: Cabot, after the 15th-century Italian explorer John Cabot, who began three voyages of exploration from Bristol; Brunel after the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who devised the famous suspension bridge over the city’s Avon Gorge; and Blackbeard, after the pirate said to have been born in Bristol – so Banksy’s in good company.

The school’s head teacher, Geoff Mason, has confirmed that they have no plans to send the work to the auction room, which is where many of his murals end up –  and said that it is “inspirational and aspirational” for the pupils. He continued, “We are very thrilled about it, and it’s great for the school community …. I’m sure it will inspire the children. The staff had to make quite a few calls this morning to make sure nobody cleaned it off. It really is amazing.”

In character mischievous style, Banksy also left a note addressed to the ‘care taker, which is now framed, reading: “Dear Bridge Farm, thanks for your letter and naming a house after me. Please have a picture. If you don’t like it, feel free to add stuff – I’m sure the teachers wont mind. Remember – it’s always easier to get forgiveness than permission. Much love, Banksy.”

 

April 2016

Banksy King Of Urban Art, Munich Exhibition Opens In April

The first comprehensive survey of Banksy work in Germany will be opening on Thursday 14 April at the Galerie Kronsbein in Munich. Banksy King of Urban Art will contain over 40 works, including originals and editions of some of the “world’s most successful guerrilla sprayers” most famous works.

The exhibition is set to feature the infamous Gangsta Rat and Paparazzi Rat stencils, Girl With Balloon, two original versions of Toxic Mary, which depict the Virgin Mary feeding a baby Jesus with some toxic fluid; as well as his Choose Your Weapon series, featuring a boy in a hoody with a barking dog – an homage to street art pioneer Keith Haring.

The exhibition will be of particular interest to German Banksy fans, as his last mural in Germany was destroyed by vandals in Hamburg in 2015.

Gallery director Sarah Kronsbein said to artnet News, “Banksy is the Andy Warhol of urban art, he’s responsible for establishing urban art in art history. We want to show a cross-section of his work, and show key pieces that guide the viewer through Banksy’s world.” Banksy’s world has now influenced numerous other street artists, who will be represented alongside him in the exhibition to give his work a current context.

Banksy’s reputation as a subversive street artist has remained successfully uncompromised despite numerous, supposed, ‘unveilings’ of his identity (read more about that here) and his new status as ‘contemporary art darling’ in the galleries – his works often reaching six figures in Sotheby’s and Christies. His continued success both on the streets and in the auction houses and galleries, is down to nothing more than his dedication to his craft, and the guerilla nature of it, and his continued ability to subvert and surprise his public. As the gallery says in its statement: “everybody is chasing after him. First it was the police, today it is the collectors.”

Banksy King of Urban Art will be on at Galerie Kronsbein, Munich, from Thursday 14 April – Saturday 10 September 2016.

 

January 2016

Boarded Up Bansky

Just days after Banksy’s new artwork (his first ever interactive piece) appeared opposite the French Embassy, it has been boarded up.

His mural, painted on a temporary wooden structure, depicts the young girl from Les Miserables with tears streaming from her eyes as a cloud of CS gas (tear gas) creeps its way towards her. (if you’ve not already seen it, check it out here)

The piece is in response to the reported use of tear gas, plastic bullets and concussion grenades on the refugee’s living in the “Jungle” camp (a former dump site) by French police; the piece has a QR code which links you to a seven minute youtube video of French police raiding the camp.

However reports that art thieves had been trying to steal the piece soon emerged and the police were called, scaring the would-be thieves off. Building developers Cheval Property Management Limited decided to board up the art work after a failed attempt by their builders to try and prize off the piece of wood on which the mural is painted. Cheval Property Management have announced they are “discussing future plans for the artwork” – one hopes those plans include the refugees Banksy is trying to help.

However, Google’s Cultural Institute Project got wind that the art work was being boarded up and being moved so decided to archive it on StreetView and will be on the Cultural Institute’s Banksy site before it was removed.

The piece comes just over a month after Banksy left a mural of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs painted on one of the tunnel walls in the “Jungle” camp in Calais (read about that here), along with some further artworks in the town – all highlighting the plight of, and the unjust treatment of the thousands of refugees living in the camp.

His latest piece has caused as much media attention as the last, and though Banksy’s Steve Jobs mural in Calais is now covered in someone else’s graffiti, it seems this one will be preserved for years to come.

Wonder when will we get to see it next?
>
 Watch: video of Banksy mural being boarded up

 

January 2016

New ‘Interactive’ Banksy Mural Appears In London

A fascinating exhibition has just opened at the Dalí Museum, in St Petersburg Florida. Disney and Dalí: Architects of the Imagination opened on the 23rd of January and takes us down the magical rabbit hole of two of the most recognizable artists of the 20th century: Dalí the magical, Spanish surrealist and Disney, the magical, American animator. Once considered an eccentric, the other a dreamer.

They met as the Second World War ravaged Europe, and Dalí and his wife Gala, fled to America. Disney and Dalí met at a party and the two minds connected. They started working together shortly afterwards at Disney’s Burbank studios in 1945. For a few months Dalí was on the payroll and produced over 250 sketches, 13 full-scale paintings and several story board manuscripts for an animated love story, a an alternative “boy meets girl” love story as Disney put it.

The exhibition’s curator, film-maker Ted Nicolaou, described Disney as “a man ready to experiment in any way possible.” He truly wanted to connect with his audiences imagination. Sadly, the film was never made in their lifetimes. Some claim it was too “sexy” for the Disney brand, others think that Disney’s confidence had been knocked by the hostile reaction to Fantasia, released in 1940, and did not want to risk another commercial flop.

Dalí’s art works remained in the studio archives and it was only in 2000 that Roy Disney decided to make the film that his uncle had abandoned. The Film, Destino, functions as one of the multi-media climaxes in this exhibition of fascinating original paintings, story sketches, conceptual artwork, correspondences, archival film, photographs, original paintings, story sketches, conceptual artwork, objects, correspondences, archival film, and photographs.

Dalí Museum Executive Director, Dr. Hank Hine, said, “This exhibition will provide a deeper look into the lives and artistic prominence of Disney and Dalí. Through their dedicated work, artistic visions, and ingenious self-promotion, their names are forever fused with their art in our collective imagination. We wake in the world they dreamed for us.”

As well as a fascinating insight in to the two men’s friendship, and how their dream-like minds complimented each other – Disney had a way of drawing the audiences in, and Dalí the knack of jolting and disturbing them – the exhibition also gives audiences brand new insight into some of Dalí’s artwork, under the title Dreams of Dali, specifically his 1935 piece Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus, which, in 3 virtual reality stations in the exhibition, allows visitors to go inside, and beyond the painting. Lucky, lucky visitors!

Both men were supporters of technological process and its influence on art, and undoubtedly would be impressed by the work of the future generations of artists influenced by the great men. To  have a little taste of what you might expect to see at the exhibition, here’s Destino, which was completed from their work in 2003 after their deaths.

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