What makes something art? Is it the intent of the creator? Is it the judgment of those experiencing it? Is it the location something is placed? Marcel Duchamp famously signed his name on a urinal he found and tried to enter it into an art show—he called it “Fountain.” It wasn’t accepted. But now, the statement he was trying to make is seen as so profound that replicas can be found in museums around the world.
Banksy is an infamous graffiti artist from London who is continually pushing the limits of art and expression. Scathing social commentary and political critique flow from his spray cans and paintbrushes. While his exact identity remains a mystery many people are jumping at the chance to define him. Some write him off as a vandal, while others have embraced him as an artistic genius. He may very well be both.
If you were to ask him, he would say that he is whatever you say he is: “You are the seer, the seeing and the seen.” Therefore, his art is nothing until you bring something to it—your interpretation, your judgment, your experience.
Art or vandalism?
Beatification or defacement?
Prophet or pest?
I leave that to you to wonder about.
There is seemingly no end to the YouTube videos that report, encourage and criticize Banksy. Below are a few that will give a sense for Banksy’s style and story.
Work in LA:
Slideshow of work:
His latest adventure: