Robert `Banksy` Banks is a well-known pseudo-anonymous English graffiti artist. He is believed to be a native of Yate, Greater Bristol and born in 1974, but there is substantial public uncertainty about his identity and personal and biographical details.According to Tristan Manco, Banksy `was born in 1974 and raised in Bristol, England. The son of a photocopier engineer, he trained as a butcher but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s.` His artworks are often-satirical pieces of art that encompass topics such as politics, culture, and ethics. His street art, which combines graffiti with a distinctive stencilling technique copied from the 1980`s Parisian urban art terrorist Blek le Rat, has appeared in cities around the world
Banksy started as a freehand graffiti artist in the late 1980s as one of Bristol`s DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), often assisting writers Kato and Tes.In 1998 he arranged the enormous `Walls On Fire` graffiti jam along with fellow Bristol graffiti legend Inkie on the site of the future `@t Bristol` development. The weekend-long event drew artists from all over the UK and Ohio, and his organisation of the event established his name within the European graffiti scene. By 2000 he had turned to the art of stencilling after realising how much less time it took to complete a `piece.` He claims he changed to stencilling whilst he was hiding from the police under a train carriage,and soon became more widely noticed for his art around Bristol and London.
Banksy`s stencils feature striking and humorous images occasionally combined with slogans. The message is usually anti-war, anti-capitalist, anti-establishment, or pro-freedom. Subjects include animals such as monkeys and rats, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly.
* In 2006, Banksy held an exhibition called Barely Legal, billed as a `three day vandalised warehouse extravaganza` in Los Angeles, on the weekend of 16 September. The exhibition featured a live `elephant in a room`, painted in a pink and gold floral wallpaper pattern.
* After Christina Aguilera bought an original of Queen Victoria as a lesbian and two prints for 25,000, on 19 October 2006 a set of Kate Moss paintings sold in Sotheby`s London for 50,400, setting an auction record for Banksy`s work. The six silk-screen prints, featuring the model painted in the style of Andy Warhol`s Marilyn Monroe pictures, sold for five times their estimated value. His stencil of a green Mona Lisa with paint dripping from her eyes sold for 57,600 at the same auction.
* On 7 February 2007, Sotheby`s auction house in London auctioned three Banksy works, reaching the highest ever price for a Banksy work at auction: over 102,000 for his Bombing Middle England. Two of his other graffiti works, Balloon Girl and Bomb Hugger, sold for 37,200 and 31,200 respectively, which were well above their estimated prices. The following day`s auction saw a further three Banksy works reach soaring prices. Ballerina With Action Man Parts reached 96,000 Glory sold for 72,000 Untitled (2004) sold for 33,600 - all prices being way over expected estimates.To coincide with the second day of auctions, Banksy updated his website with a new image of an auction house scene showing people bidding on a picture that said, `I Can`t Believe You Morons Actually Buy This Shit.`
* In February 2007, the owners of a house with a Banksy mural on the side in Bristol decided to sell the house through an art gallery after offers fell through because the prospective buyers wanted to remove the mural. It is listed as a mural which comes with a house attached.
* In April 2007, Transport for London painted over Banksy`s iconic image of a scene from Quentin Tarantino`s Pulp Fiction, with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta clutching bananas instead of guns. Although the image was very popular, Transport for London claimed that the `graffiti` created a general atmosphere of neglect and social decay which in turn encourages crime.
* On April 27th 2007, a new record high for the sale of Banksy`s work was set with the auction of the work `Space Girl & Bird` fetching 288,000 ($576,000), around 20 times the estimate at Bonhams of London. On the 21st May 2007 Banksy gained the award for Art`s Greatest living Briton. Banksy, as expected, did not turn up to collect his award, and continued with his notoriously anonymous status.
* Banksy recently made a tribute art piece over his famous Pulp Fiction piece. The tribute was for English graffiti artist OZONE, who was hit by an underground train in Barking, East London along with a fellow artist WANTS, on January 12th 2007. The art piece was of an angel wearing a bulletproof vest, holding a skull. He also wrote a note on his website, saying:
The last time I hit this spot I painted a crap picture of two men in banana costumes waving hand guns. A few weeks later a writer called Ozone completely dogged it and then wrote `If it`s better next time I`ll leave it` in the bottom corner.
When we lost Ozone we lost a fearless graffiti writer and as it turns out a pretty perceptive art critic.
Ozone - rest in peace.
Ozone died at the age of 19.