Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Is the Art World Expanding?

Street art has not been known historically to be the pinnacle form of art. However, in recent years street art has taken on a life of its own and seemed to carve its own home in the art world. Street artist Banksy appears to be the ultimate example of how the perception of street art has changed.

Dismaland -- a "bemusement" park, 2015

Not much is known about Banksy. He is a London-based artist who has never revealed his identity to the general public. He is known for creating street art that employs dark humor and often has a political or social commentary aspect to it. He rose to prominence in the 1990s and is known for primarily utilizing stencils where he often combines images with a catchy slogan. He has also taken famous images and adapted them to convey a message.

In 2010, Banksy came out with a documentary entitled Exit Through the Gift Shop, which was nominated for an Academy Award. The documentary has caused quite a stir and has led many to believe that it was a hoax created by Banksy and fellow street artist Shepard Fairey. The film focuses on Thierry Guetta, who adopted the name Mr. Brainwash and became entrenched in street art. The film seems to be a commentary on the commercialization of street art.

Banksy has become something of a phenomenon. Many art auctioneers have been known to sell his street art on location and leave the removal of the art to the lucky bidder. His work can often be sold at hundreds of thousands of dollars on the regular, and celebrities of all kinds are always vying to acquire his work. He has published four books, and his fourth, entitled Wall and Piece has sold more than 250,000 copies. His main appeal appears to be connected to his unfiltered commentary on society. Gardner states in his writing that creative minds often take action when they find "further change necessary--whether because the creative individual is dissatisfied with an ad hoc solution or because the particular problem can be solved only by a fundamental reorientation" (33). Banksy appears to have helped popularize street art as a form of media that helps to create conversation about key issues. 

On the barrier between Israel and Palestine, 2005


  1. Even though I know the name "Banksy" and what they do in general, I don't really know that much detail about the specifics of street art and how Banksy has revolutionized it. I think it's fascinating that even after all these years Banksy has managed to keep his identity a secret - like a modern day Batman or Spiderman! I also didn't know that when an art buyer buys a piece of Banksy's street art, they are in charge of removing it and taking it back to wherever they're going to keep it - that was an interesting little fact to know!

  2. I think that this observation about the art world expanding not just in what we consider art (street art as opposed to a formal painting) but in how we've shifted our perspectives on what techniques we consider art (you mentioned Banky's stencils, which would have historically been considered a crutch or a lack of skill). We've also dramatically changed the way that we consume art, from a white walled gallery that's closed off, to the purposely putting art where it's accessible to all - on the streets. Perhaps even more-so, on our phones! Through social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook, an endless array of types and styles of art is available for our viewing at any time, really pushing the paradigm shift that art has no limits. Great post!

  3. I think it is interesting to consider how Banksy's secret identity plays a role in their creativity. I actually just saw a news article from the New York Times where they claim to have a primary suspect of his true identity.

    The fact that someone can be so revolutionary within their domain, yet remain anonymous, is very foreign to us. I wonder if keeping their identity a secret helps the creative process. They can give social commentary and put their ideas out there without fear of personal criticism. Whatever their reasons are, the anonymity definitely contributes to their pull as an artist.


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