By Abbey Knupp
After one year of silence, Banksy is back to spraying cities with his voice through the creation of street art. The first piece in his month long project, Better Out Than In, was posted on his website on October 1. The piece depicts one boy helping another reach a spray paint can on a sign that states: “No Grafitti.” Taking residency on the streets of New York, Banksy’s new work has appeared in various locations all over the city and has caused a great deal of hype. Fans and casual news readers alike have flocked to the locations of Banksy’s newest pieces, hoping to get a picture with the artist’s new work before it gets tagged or taken down. Each day for the month of October, a new piece of street art or a mobile installation piece is set to appear somewhere in the city.
Some of the pieces in the new exhibition are accompanied by a telephone number that replays an audio message when called. The messages give insight about the artist’s meaning of the piece in a lighthearted and amusing way. This is the first time an audio guide has been incorporated in one of Banksy’s projects and it is a nice addition to his artistic statements.
Since the 1990s, an anonymous street artist who goes by the alias “Banksy” has been leaving his mark around the world. Starting in London, Banksy began his career by leaving freehand pieces around the city. In the late 1990s, his trademark stencil style began to develop. His work often satirizes war, hypocrisy, capitalism, and greed through the use of children, policemen, rats, apes, and famous copyrighted material as subjects. Banksy is also known for creating installation pieces and for his documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, which illustrates the life of a French immigrant in Los Angeles and his obsession with street art.
Banksy’s pieces have gone from simple vandalism to acclaimed works of art that sell with extremely large price tags. Due to the nature of Banksy’s work, many of the pieces are hard to market, but his installation pieces, stencils, and screen prints have sold for record amounts. The most expensive Banksy piece to date, Keep it Spotless, was sold in 2008 for a whopping $1,870,000. In that same year, a resident of Bristol put a Banksy mural on the market with a strange twist: the mural comes with the house that it’s painted on. Many other pieces created by the street artist have sold at auctions for substantial prices.
Banksy’s fame has helped inspire a new era of street art and has caused many other talents to be recognized for their work. The mounting monetary success of other street artists has aptly been deemed “The Banksy Effect.”
However, Banksy’s name stirs heated controversy. While many have become enthused with Banksy’s interesting form of art, others hold the pieces in contempt, whether it be due to the political statements being made or the fact that the act in itself is vandalism. Many pieces have been destroyed by other artists, construction crews, or landowners, leaving only picture records to illustrate much of Banksy’s legacy.
Whether you hold his artwork in reverence or contempt, Banksy is back to creating his unique art despite the laws put in place to stop him. Each piece in Banksy’s October exhibition can be viewed on his website, www.banksyny.com.