Banksy is an anonymous street artist best known for his subversive graffiti art. Presumed to be born in the United Kingdom in the 1970s, Banksy is the alias for the personality behind antiauthoritarian art that is often painted on streets, walls, signage and bridges in public settings. His controversial work began popping up in Bristol in the 1990s, featuring recognizable visual motifs such as rats and policemen as a form of witty social commentary. He began using stencils to speed up his process, which have now become a quintessential part of his oeuvre.
Sometimes including text, Banksy’s works are satirical, blunt, and incorporate dark humour and kitsch. His artwork comments on serious themes and polarizing issues such as democracy, technology, personal autonomy, and revolution—but he also creates light-hearted work that reflects values of innocence, love, and empathy. Banksy’s unapologetic political approach and disruptive visuals— such as his stencilling of the West Bank Wall in Palestine—have impacted cities throughout the world, encouraging critical thinking and revolution in the art world. Banksy has since undertaken an interdisciplinary approach and has been categorized through various labels including political-activist, performance artist, and creative director. He has published books documenting his street art, as well as directed the 2010 film Exit Through the Gift Shop, a notorious documentary that profiled popular graffiti artists, but whose heavy satire resulted as commentary on the hyper-commercialization of art.
In 2015, he opened Dismaland, a conceptual parody of an amusement park that highlighted climate crisis, urban decay, and inequality. Banksy does not sell his street graffiti but his public installations have been resold, even by removing the surfaces they were painted on. However, Banksy has found tremendous success in the commercial art market, where his recent work has made record-breaking sales at art auctions. Still anonymous to this day, his legacy lies in blurring the boundaries and expectations of street art and fine art.

Artwork by Banksy

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