Banksy started as a free hand graffiti artist. He took up stencil graffiti after an incident while painting trains with a group of other graffiti artists. He was slower than the others, and they left him behind. The authorities came and he had to hide under one of the trains for several hours. He recalled that while hiding beneath a train, he spent a long while staring at a stencilled part number on the mechanism of the train’s underside. At this moment, says Banksy, he received the inspiration for his stencilling technique. Recently he has moved on to producing subverted paintings; one example is Monet’s Water Lily Pond, adapted to include typical urban detritus such as litter and a shopping trolley floating in its reflective waters, another is Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, redrawn to show that the characters are looking at an English football hooligan dressed only in his Union Jack underpants, who has just thrown an object through the glass window of the cafe. These modified oil paintings were first publicly exhibited at a packed twelve-day exhibition in Westbourne Grove, London in 2005.
Over the past few years, Banksy has emerged as an ingenious and dexterous culture jammer, adept at hacking the art world and rewriting its rules to suit his own purposes. He once closed a tunnel in London while he and his friends, disguised as overall-clad painters, whitewashed the walls. Then Banksy applied his own distinctive black stencils on the newly cleaned surface. “We called our friends, bought some beer, and staged a ‘gallery show,'” he says with a chuckle. Last March, Banksy achieved an art world “quadruple crown” when in a single day he snuck his works into four New York City museums: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The American Museum of Natural History, and The Brooklyn Museum.
Such feats have earned him worldwide media attention and the kind of rewards traditional artists would kill for, including an offer from Nike to work on an ad campaign (he declined) and an invitation to do a public painting for the 2004 Liverpool Biennial (he accepted). The British Museum even added Banksy’s Early Man Goes to Market to its permanent collection.
Most recently, Banksy has received international media coverage after having smuggled 500 doctored copies of Paris Hilton’s debut album into music stores throughout the UK, where they have sold without the shops’ knowledge. In place of Ms. Hilton’s bubble-gum pop songs, the CDs feature Banksy’s own rudimentary compositions.
Pictures from Bansky’s Doctored Paris Hilton CD
On the cover of the doctored CD, Ms. Hilton’s dress has been digitally repositioned to reveal her bare breasts; on an inside photo, her head has been replaced with that of her dog. On the back cover, the original song titles have been replaced with a list of questions: “Why am I famous?”, “What have I done?” and “What am I for?” Inside the accompanying booklet, a picture of the heiress emerging from a luxury car has been retouched to include a group of homeless people.
Hot Live Action: Banksky Giving Hilton (CD) The Much Needed Face-Lift
Banksy: An Outdoor Piece
Banksy: A Photographic Gallery
Picture that Bansky Smuggled into the Brooklyn Museum of Art
(The Picture was Undiscovered for Eight Days !!)
Banksy Sneaking His Work into the Brooklyn Museum
See the Banksy Film: Prankster at the Brooklyn Museum of Art