I have to admit, I don’t know much about street art except to utter “cool” as I walk by a work that I like. I’ve recently discovered however, that street art, (aka graffiti, sticker art, guerilla art, street installation, etc), is a sophisticated sub-culture that warrants taking a closer look.
The term “Street Art” refers to any art developed in public spaces and usually refers to unsanctioned art. A large amount of street art is activist and subversive but one common thread is that it allows artists, to reach a much broader audience than traditional art venues usually permit.
Many street artists have become internationally known, and their art is highly sought after by collectors who are willing to pay large sums of money to acquire their works. One of the most famous of these is the artist known as “Banksy”. Banksy, like many street artists, has managed to keep his identity a mystery. Some information about the artist however, is widely accepted: he was born in 1974 in Bristol, UK, and got involved in street art in the early 90s, and by 2003, had gained widespread notoriety. Over the years, many people have come forward claiming to know Banksy’s identity, but none have ever been verified.
His paintings, stencils, sculptures, and other art pieces have appeared in cities around the world and are often humorous and satirical, tackling political, cultural, and ethical issues of the day. Banksy also likes to make social commentaries in the form of practical jokes. He once replaced hundreds of Paris Hilton CDs with his own and has sneaked his own artwork into major museums.
Banksy’s work is heralded by some and scorned by others. Some see the work of a great artist who has found a way to present his art (and opinions) to the largest number of people possible by using the street as his canvas. Others see street artists as criminals, vandals, nuisances that the taxpayer has to clean up after. I am personally moved and impressed by Banksy’s work, but that’s just me. Judge for yourself by visiting Banksy.co.uk, or by reading the fantastic eight part Banksy series on Weburbanist.com.