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Banksy: A guide to the elusive artist

Banksy is one of the most famous graffiti artists of all time. His works are instantly recognisable around the world. We take a look at the phenomenon that is Banksy the artist.

Who is the man behind the art?

The exact identity of Banksy has remained a mystery. There has been much speculation about who is behind the graffiti and works of art however his name has never been publically released. A name that commonly features is Robin Gunningham. An artist born in Bristol in 1974. However Banksy’s agent has neither confirmed nor denied any identity. Very few people have ever interviewed him. One of the few was Simon Hattenstone of the Guardian who described him as “cross of Jimmy Nail and British rapper Mike Skinner". There have been a number of reported sightings of him at work with accompanying photos but again, nothing has ever been confirmed as to his identity.

Techniques

The works of Banksy are so distinctive as a result of his stencilling technique, a key technique he has used for many years despite many street artists believing the use of stencils is in some way “cheating”.

In his book, Wall and Piece Banksy notes the beginnings of his use of stencils as a way to minimise time when he started out as he was too slow and was either caught or didn’t get to finish the art work.

Of course due to his own secrecy it is difficult to know exactly all the techniques he uses.

PHOTO GALLERY: Banksy - A guide to the elusive artist

Greatest Works

From his beginnings as a street artist in the early 1990’s Banksy has produced numerous pieces of street art and exhibited at a number of venues over the last 10-15 years.

Notable works include a number of humorous pieces in both London and Bristol Zoo within animal enclosures!

He took a trip to Israel where he produced a number pieces of work on the Israeli West Bank Wall.

For the 2012 London Olympics he created a number of works around the city including an athlete throwing a missile rather than a javelin.

As well as graffiti Banksy has produced other art works within the public arena. In 2004 he produce a number of spoof £10 notes but with Diana, Princess of Wales head. There were thrown into crowds at a number of festivals and are considered valuable pieces of Banksy art – fetching up to £200 per note.

He also produced a number of his own versions of the cover art of the debut album from Paris Hilton, placing them in various record shops around the country.

He has also dressed an inflatable doll in the same way as Guantanamo Bay prisoners including orange jumpsuit, black hood and handcuffs and placed the doll on a ride in Disneyland California.

In 2010 he stared in his own movie, although his face was pixilated out, entitled "Exit Through the Gift Shop”

His works go on and on and his is currently on a month long residence in New York and he caused a stir when he set up a stall near Central Park selling his famous works for $60 unbeknownst to the passing public.

Critics

Of course, despite his huge popularity and commercial success he has his critics. There are those, including Peter Gibson of Keep Britain Tidy, who believe the art is nothing more than vandalism. Many of his works have been destroyed by painting over them or cleaning them. Also, he has been criticised for being nothing more than a copy of Blek Le Rat, a 1980’s street artist in Paris.

PHOTO GALLERY: Banksy - A guide to the elusive artist

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