This weekend I just finished reading Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude (which is messy, and poetic, and beautiful, and has a lot of great scenes featuring early hip-hop culture in Brooklyn in the 70s and 80s), and it made me think back on this clever/political British graffiti artist I read about in Esquire named Banksy. Anyway, this guy is too fascinating to ignore, so I figured I had to post about him.

Some facts (from Wikipedia): "Banksy (born 1974) is a prolific graffiti artist from Bristol, UK, whose artwork has appeared throughout London and other locations around the world"¦ His original street art form, which combines graffiti with a distinctive stenciling technique, has achieved a certain underground notoriety and widespread coverage in the mainstream media. Despite this attention, he carefully manages to keep his real identity hidden."

  • At London Zoo, he climbed into the penguin enclosure and painted 'We're bored of fish' in two metre high letters.
  • In August, 2005, Banksy painted 9 images on the Palestinian side of the Israeli West Bank barrier, including an image of a ladder going up and over the wall and an image of children digging a hole through the wall. (note, I've posted a few below)
  • In June 2006, Banksy stencilled an image of a naked man hanging out of a bedroom window on a wall in central Bristol, England. The image sparked some controversy, with the Bristol City Council leaving it up to the public to decide whether it should stay or go. After an internet discussion in which 97% (all but 6 people) supported the stencil, the city council decided it would be left on the building

He also has more than a few books out, with lovely, punny titles like "Wall and Peace" and "Existencilism." Anyway, I've posted some of his work below, but here's a link if you're interested in seeing more.