By Paul Dunwell, writing for EasyFrame
© Copyright EasyFrame 2018
This article is about Banksy. Graffiti had long since been deservedly written off as simply vandalism when he appeared on the scene. Yet he’s almost single-handedly taken what was hitherto an aptitude for creating expensive-to-clean-up eyesores with discounted spray-cans and elevated it into an art-form. Even councils have had to rethink their attitudes towards his work; initially it would be painted over on their orders but now it’s a prized tourist attraction.
He’s an artist though not one who’d readily be associated with framed works. Much of his street art is irredeemably in-situ. The man (let’s assume Banksy is a man) clearly has great talent not only as an artist but as an unapologetic self-publicist, one who’s twigged that unsolicited work is increasingly likely to be left on walls all over the world, transforming the sites into listed buildings, and in doing so they’re secured as permanent free advertisements for Banksy. Yet, actually, though the means to buy originals by Banksy are probably beyond your budget and mine, it is entirely possible to buy very-affordable prints of his work. And then have them framed.
Who is Banksy?
If you go and look him up on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banksy you will find a simply massive profile. Let’s put it that into perspective. Yes we’re on social media. And it’s a young-person’s thing. But Banksy’s Wikipedia profile is longer than that for Picasso at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Picasso.
A not-insubstantial part of that profile (Banksy’s, not Picasso’s) is preoccupied with who Banksy is. There are a number of contenders, but the pack is led by Robin Gunningham who’s 45 and from the Bristol area. There is certainly some corroboration for this theory. But other possibilities include the front-man from ‘Massive Attack’, the designer who’s done the work for ‘Tank Girl’ and ‘Gorrilaz’, a team of 7 artists, and Pierre Koukijan who is an artist and spoke eloquently about the recent shredding of a newly-sold painting at Sotheby’s just after he’d personally witnessed it (the speculation is that his comments ‘a turning point in the history of contemporary and conceptual art’, ‘what he did is really shocking, in a good way’, and ‘I think it will be historic and people will talk for a long time about it’, coupled with his claim to have met Banksy, were a little too erudite to have been spontaneous).
What Has Banksy Achieved?
Magic. In one sense he’s rivalled ‘Dynamo’ (aka Steven Frayne) for the feat of making millions out of a talent for spraying on walls. (That can’t be far behind walking on water.) He’s managed to monetise a propensity for vandalism, ironically becoming wealthier than many of the property-owners whose walls he would have besmirched as a youngster.
Banksy is certainly an artist who enjoys making political statements. They might be pro-homosexuality, anti-war or green messages. They confront oppression and, in general, are not just politically-correct (which seems a little odd for a graffiti artist given the essential illegality of their metier) but generally encouraging of a better world towards which we should all be aiming.
Arguably he’s encouraged youngsters who must spray on other people’s property to ‘up’ their game. And he’s certainly raised a few eyebrows. He’s demonstrated that he’s a skilled draughtsman who can generate his own fine art (see below) and he acknowledges the work of his predecessors. See below for a take on Monet’s ‘Bridge over a Pond with Waterlilies’ and Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’. The 3rd piece is a cut-out suggesting a tropical paradise lies behind the grey wall.
How Rich Has it Made Him?
This is difficult to say. Forbes magazine reckoned he was worth $20m (£15m) in 2013 so you can probably double that. It’s said that the work which recently sel-shredded, the ‘Girl with Balloon’, could be worth twice as much in that shredded state. His works now fetch over a million pounds. But he’s been involved in film-making, installation art, a weird theme-park and even running a hotel in the Middle East. But not everything he does will make money and he’s been known to be exceptionally generous, creating art purposefully for charitable purposes.
Can You Have a Banksy without Bulldozing Somebody’s Wall?
We’ve all had the chance to acquire an affordable Banksy original. Back in 2013 he set up a booth near Central Park in New York and had an old man sell 25 canvasses for $60 apiece to passing tourists. The BBC subsequently estimated each to be worth as much as $31,000 but two have already sold just a year later for $214,000.
An Admission of Self-Interest – And Annoyance
I freely confess that my admiration for Banksy’s artistic and commercial acumen is tempered by my annoyance at his literacy. The following letter appeared in the Independent newspaper back on 26th September 2006 (my buddy Neil Pearson, no slouch as an artist himself, created the cartoon):
Banksy’s International Legacy
There is no doubt that Banksy has had a huge impact internationally. Few cities in the world don’t have stencilled street art that he’s inspired. The work below, cleverly placed behind a real bike to give it a 3D effect, is something that I believe my daughter spotted in Cambodia earlier this year.
Who cares if this doesn’t constitute great art? It’s thought-provoking and well-executed, and prints of it would enhance the ambiance in any home, public building or office.
You’ll need them framing first. EasyFrame is an obvious and affordable supplier, whether you want to source all you’d need to do the job yourself or have them do it for you.
Any good framers will be able to show you a vast range of different solutions and advise on what might be the most suitable given the work and its proposed location.
EasyFrame is on 01234 856 501 and / or firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll always chat even if you don’t want to buy!