If a person has a minimal idea about the street art scene, it is almost impossible to not have heard the name of Banksy.
Banksy is an anonymous England-based street artist. The person who has been named the best British artist of 2007, but did not receive the award to protect his identity – is surely someone not to be taken lightly.
His satiric and overtly political art pieces – in the forms of graffiti, stencils and mosaics – have received attention from all over the world.
Banksy has become some sort of a pop culture icon. His street artworks have gained popularity on the internet.
Banksy's art has transcended from the streets of London to the computer wallpapers of people who love his work.
Who is Banksy?
The man behind the pseudonym Banksy is still a mystery. Popular theories say he was born in 1974 in Bristol, England. A persistent rumour is that Banksy is the singer Robert del Naja from the music group "Massive Attack." However, no one has been identified yet.
Banksy is a force of provocative art and anti-establishment when it comes to the art market and its financial components.
In one instance, Banksy tried to sell 20 paintings, for $60 each. An American tried to sell the paintings on his behalf at Central Park.
Only a few paintings were sold. "I know street art can feel increasingly like the marketing wing of an art career, so I wanted to make some art without the price tag attached," Banksy said in a statement.
Banksy never sells his paintings in private art galleries. Even though there is a considerable following of his work who are willing to pay a big price, Banksy remains reluctant and theatrical.
The girl with Balloons, one of his most famous artworks, self-destructed in front of a large audience.
The art had fetched $1.4 million in an auction before it was destroyed publicly (Banksy himself wanted it).
The story of Banksy is still relevant. As the world gets connected, his exploits are becoming more exposed to a larger audience – irrespective of where they live.
For almost 30 years, Banksy has been creating his works in streets around the world. A large number of these works have been destroyed already – as is the nature of street art.
His prominent artworks, "The Falling Man," "The Girl with the Pearl Eardrums," "Kissing Coppers," "Spy Booth," "The Mild Mild Booth," etc are popular among his admirers.
Street art itself is a radical concept. It can be considered criminal damage and can put the artist into legal battles. Hence, Banksy's wish to stay under the radar is a no brainer.
In 2011, Banksy-directed documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop" was nominated in the Oscars under the best documentary category.
Since the artist would never be able to attend the event as his true self, he reportedly requested permission to wear a monkey mask at the event. The request was turned down.
Banksy has his fair share of critics too. Many have raised eyebrows about his so-called "pseudo disdain" to the art market, as he seems closer to the market he once snubbed.
Banksy sells his work through his online shop. This reason has played upon him as critics say he is also commercialising art. But interestingly, this online shop does not work like any other e-commerce platforms. It would be more suitable if people called it a lottery shop, instead of a merchandise store.
To buy merchandises designed by Banksy, buyers had to answer the question "Why does art matter?"
The answers were then judged by comedian Adam Bloom and only those deemed worthy were awarded the opportunity to buy a piece.
While it is evident that Banksy has moved away from the subculture he started as his sensational popularity only seems to rise, his work continues to pose daring questions.
5 iconic works by Banksy
The Flower Thrower- 2003
In 2003, Banksy first executed this art in Jerusalem – a painting on the city's West Bank barrier wall that separates Israel from its Occupied Territories.
The image depicts a protestor, popularly referred to as "the masked thug." He is seen throwing a bouquet of flower.
This image has been replicated many times over the years. This is one of many artworks by Banksy in support of the Palestine settlement.
Sweeping it Under the Carpet- 2006
This piece first appeared in Chalk Farm, London. Banksy described the piece on his website, "In the bad old days, it was only popes and princes who had the money to pay for their portraits to be painted. This is a portrait of a maid called Leanne who cleaned my room in a Los Angeles motel. She was quite a feisty lady."
Follow Your Dreams (Cancelled)-2010
In 2010, this Banksy artwork appeared in the low-income area of Chinatown in Boston. The image featured an exhausted painter standing next to a wall painting "Follow Your Dreams," stamped with the word "cancelled." Over the years, this piece has become one of Banksy's more revered works.
There is Always Hope-2007
Banksy's "Girl with Balloon" is a very recognisable work of him. The original work depicts a young girl losing a heart-shaped balloon to a gust of wind. There is also a small quote etched into the staircase that reads, "There is always hope."
One Nation Under CCTV-2008
This politically charged graffiti has already been removed from its site. A commentary on the UK's surveillance-captured society, the towering work read "ONE NATION UNDER CCTV," and featured a depiction of both a child-sized artist and a watchful security guard.
The irony about this artwork is, Banksy had to scale a wall and paint it, standing right next to a cluster of CCTV cameras watching him – but failing to identify him.