Posts Tagged ‘banksy’


When I was last in Manhattan, I took a photo of a putative Banksy stencil. It’s one that the gourmet food emporium Zabar’s helped to preserve in 2013, when the British street artist was said to be tagging all five New York City boroughs.

I have written often about Banksy — here, for instance. I get a real kick out of his ideas and the fact that he works by stealth. (Speaking of that, if you search on the word “stealth” at the blog, you will find all kinds of examples.)

Banksy’s art, like other street art, is not necessarily meant to last for the ages, but he has become such a phenomenon that there are now efforts to restore murals that have been painted over.

The BBC reports from Scotland, “Restoration work is under way on three early works by the artist Banksy which were accidentally painted over with grey emulsion in a Glasgow nightclub.

“The murals, which feature a gun-toting monkey in a tutu and a framed Mona Lisa, were created as part of an exhibition at The Arches in 2001. But they were mistakenly covered in 2007 then left after the club went into administration [bankruptcy] in 2015.

“A team of restorers are expected to take five months to uncover the works. … Banksy created the works, which also feature the words ‘Every time I hear the word culture I release the safety on my 9mm’ when he was beginning his career as a graffiti artist.

“They were shown as part of the ‘Peace is Tough‘ exhibition in March 2001, … but six years later, and long after Banksy had established himself as an international artist, the murals were covered with grey emulsion during refurbishment work at the nightclub.

“When the club went into administration in 2015, the then owners had considered restoring the murals and selling them to clear the club’s debts.

“Chris Bull, technical director at Fine Arts Restoration Co (Farco), which is carrying out the restoration, said the murals were the only known works by Banksy in Scotland with any provenance. …

“The new owners of the venue, Argyle Street Arches, say they now want to save the works for the nation. … Once complete the works will be put on permanent display.”

More at the BBC, here.

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Photo: Hannah Ellis-Petersen for the Guardian
This mural of a worker removing one star from the European Union logo appeared overnight in Dover, Kent. It’s Banksy’s reaction to the Brexit vote.

When I was at the magazine and collecting articles for the next issue, I was sometimes surprised to discover I had a whole issue — or almost a whole issue — on one topic. Suddenly several articles on prisoner issues came together, or maybe immigrant issues, or agriculture issues. It was not planned that way, it just happened.

Today I notice that another United Kingdom topic has popped up after yesterday’s entry on UK election artists. This post is about the street artist Banksy and his stealth reaction to the vote that authorized the UK to leave the European Union and expel many immigrants. Hannah Ellis-Petersen at the Guardian reported the story in May.

“A Brexit-inspired mural by Banksy showing a metalworker chipping away at a star on the EU flag has appeared in Dover. …

“The mural, which was confirmed by Banksy’s representatives to be a genuine work by the elusive artist, is his first comment on the Brexit vote last year.

“The stars of the flag ‘stand for the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe,’ according to the EU website. …

“The Dover artwork is across the Channel from Calais, where a Banksy mural appeared at the main refugee camp in 2015, showing the Apple founder, Steve Jobs, whose biological father was a Syrian immigrant,” reminding people that immigrants should be valued. More at the Guardian.

I have posted a few times about this street artist, and once I took a photo of what people said was his work. Check these links to a few of my Banksy posts: herehere, and here.

Banksy appears in Boston. Maybe.

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Time for a new post on street art. Have you been following the Banksy-in-New-York saga? He was living in the city for a while last year, creating a new piece of street art every day. People ran around to find it, some New Yorkers even trying to charge admission. An HBO movie was made about it.

Banksy is always interesting, but today I want to tell you what street artist Stik has been up to.

The Londonist website says, “Street artist Stik has just finished creating the tallest piece of street art in the world — a 38.2 metre high mural on a condemned council tower block in Acton [a district in the west of London].

” ‘Big Mother’ depicts a mother and child looking forlornly from their council block at the luxury apartment complexes being built around them. The mural is visible from not only the Piccadilly Line, but also on some London flight paths.

“Stik, who was once homeless, said: ‘Affordable housing in Britain is under threat; this piece is to remind the world that all people need homes.’ ”

And I guess in this season a homeless mother and child is especially resonant.

Thank you to @ecpulford for retweeting the story from Bernadetta Keefe (@nxtstop1).

Stik’s website is here. His minimalist, wistful beings remind me a bit of Finnish artist Tove Jansson’s children’s books about the Moomin family.

First picture below, cover of paperback Finn Family Moomintroll

Second picture: Joyce/Division
The 38.2 metre mural has been painted on a tower block which is due for demolition in 2016. Image © Stik

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Years ago, when I was expecting, I learned the baby would be a girl. My husband and I went right out and bought a beautiful dollhouse built by a teenage boy we read about in the local paper.

Recently, Nancy Shohet West wrote in the Boston Globe about a new dollhouse show. My husband said, “If you go, see if you can find someone who can repair dollhouses.” (Suzanne’s needs a face lift.)

But we didn’t read the article carefully. The show featured art works from artists contemplating the resonance of “dollhouse.”

Note the foreclosed house with a Banksy on an exterior wall (above it, the only entry by a male artist, with tiny soldiers), the Japanese-inspired house, and the 1950s domestic fantasy house, below. It was a fine show, but I didn’t find anyone to repair Suzanne’s dollhouse.

The exhibit was in a renovated warehouse where artists have studios and where there also is shared space for entrepreneurs. The business space is called the Wheelhouse, and it features a common area for eating and relaxing, small offices with names on glass doors, small conference rooms — and lots of art.

I was surprised. The last time my husband and I were in that building we were taking a stretch class with a classmate of Suzanne’s, and the Bradford Mill was so rickety one expected the staircase to collapse at any moment. Times change.

The dollhouse show is up until August 28. Read more about it here.














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Kai the World Traveler and Titan of Industry knows the kind of story that catches my eye. He sent me this one from the New York Times about a street artist who spoofs Banksy, Tom Hanks, and a lot else.

John Leland writes, “This is a story about art in the age of social media

“In April 2011, a law school dropout in Bushwick, Brooklyn, newly arrived from the Midwest, had an idea that he thought might make a splash. He admired the street artist Banksy; he grew up on the movies of Tom Hanks. Why not mash up the two?

“Using simple computer software, he downloaded a Banksy painting of a rat holding a paint roller, then added an image of Mr. Hanks’s face. The whole thing took 10 or 15 minutes to create. He printed a cutout and pasted it on a wall at Mulberry and Kenmare Streets in Little Italy, signing it Hanksy.

“He photographed the wall for his Instagram and Twitter accounts, and emailed it to the Wooster Collective, a popular street art website. Then he went to sleep.

“ ‘And then it just went viral,’ Hanksy said the other day

“RJ Rushmore, who runs the street art blog Vandalog, said he was among many who initially dismissed Hanksy as an opportunist. ‘I thought it was not art, not brilliant, just taking the stupidest ideas and presenting them in ways that were very friendly for Tumblr and Instagram,’ Mr. Rushmore said. ‘It’s not art in the sense of a graffiti writer who spent 15 years developing his style.’

“Mr. Rushmore has since warmed to Hanksy, for comic relief in a scene that sometimes gets too serious. ‘He makes the best cat videos,’ he said. ‘That’s still something to be applauded.’

“Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, said more was at stake in Hanksy’s visual gags.

“ ‘It’s more than a pun,’ she said. ‘Banksy’s work is hypermasculine and serious about its underground, tough, outlaw image. And Tom Hanks is just not that guy. So the humor is putting that identity on this hyper-butch material. It’s the revenge of the nerd.’ ” More.

Photo: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Street artist Hanksy merged Banksy’s famous rat with Tom Hanks.

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I have blogged about the elusive street artist Banksy a number of times —  for example, here. There is always some curious new story about him, or about this or that artist who may or may not have been him. He’s like Macavity, T.S. Eliot’s mystery cat, who’s “called the hidden paw.”

Now, according to the Huffington Post and the Independent in England, he has done a kindness for someone living in an oil tank that got too famous after Banksy painted it.

“In 2011, while in Los Angeles promoting his documentary ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop,’ the shadowy British street artist Banksy tagged a vaguely elephantine water tank near the Pacific Coast Highway with the sentence ‘This Looks a Bit Like an Elephant.’ Unbeknown to him, the abandoned tank had been serving as a makeshift home for Tachowa Covington. …

” ‘I looked out of the hatch, and there were two guys there,’ he told the Independent. ‘ ” They were writing on his home.

“Less than two weeks later, after buying the tank directly from the city of Los Angeles, the owners of the design firm Mint Currency had it removed by crane and trucked away, leaving Covington just 16 hours to gather his possessions and vacate his home of seven years. That’s when Banksy stepped in to help the man he’d inadvertently left homeless, giving him enough money to find an apartment and pay his bills for a full year.

” ‘He helped me so fast, I didn’t have to spend a single day more on the streets. It was like a miracle,’ Covington said. ‘There ain’t no better man than Banksy … He was an angel to me. He helped me more than anybody helped me in my life.’ ”

Read more.

Photo from Capturing Banksy



Banksy Gave a Man Whose Home He Tagged Enough Money To Live for a Year

Posted: 08/06/2013 1:00 pm



In 2011, while in Los Angeles promoting his documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” the shadowy British street artist Banksy tagged a vaguely elephantine water tank near the Pacific Coast Highway with the sentence “This Looks a Bit Like an Elephant.” Unbeknown to him, the abandoned tank had been serving as a makeshift home for Tachowa Covington, and the attention brought by the famous artist’s stencil forced him to abandon his home of seven years.

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I am intrigued by street art, and have blogged a few times about the British street artist Banksy. For example, here.

So I wanted to share Nicholas Barber’s article “The Full Banksy Experience” at More Intelligent Life.

“Last week I was driving home along an unlovely stretch of main road in east London,” writes Barber, “when I saw what looked like a billboard on the side of a building. It had a friendly message printed in neat black letters: ‘Sorry! The lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock.’

“It took a few seconds to process. It was definitely pithy, and definitely cheered me up at the end of a boring drive, but what was it? An advert? Did it have The Economist’s red logo at the bottom? Or was it … could it be … a Banksy?

“A few days later, an item in the local paper confirmed that it was indeed a Bansky, and a photo was on the artist’s website. I felt as if I’d lucked into a new artistic experience.

“The pleasure you get from a Banksy comes from the whole process: the chancing upon on an artwork in the unlikeliest of places, the speculation over how it got there, the uncertainty over whether it’s his or not, the subsequent authentication, and then the knowledge that it might have been rubbed out by the time you return.”

That is similar to my own reaction, except for the fact that I knew what I was looking for. And to this day, it has not been “authenticated.” Do you think it looks like a Banksy?

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I am psyched. I blogged a while back about UBS banker Geoff Hargadon, who is also a conceptual artist with a crazy sense of humor.

After Brandeis University’s then president made noises about selling the art collection of the Rose Museum, Hargadon put a sign outside on the grass: “Cash For Your Warhol.” It looked like the signs on telephones poles or in abandoned lots that lure the unwary into deals too good to be true.

Hargadon has put his signs up hither and yon, like the street artist Banksy in a way, or Shepard Fairey.

Yesterday I noticed one in the Boston financial district as I waited for the light to change. It’s at the corner of Congress and Franklin streets. I came back today and took a picture. Anyone want to call the number?


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I like reading about street art and what motivates the creative outbursts. I have blogged on this before (Slinkachu, Banksy).

The Art Newspaper recently did quite a long feature on street art inspired by (and inspiring) the Arab Spring.

Anny Shaw and Gareth Harris interview “Hans Ulrich Obrist of London’s Serpentine Gallery, who is chairing a discussion on art patronage in the Middle East as part of a summit at the British Museum and the Royal College of Art (12-13 January).”

” ‘What is interesting to see in Egypt, and in all these countries, is that artists are not only going out into the city, they also become agents of change in society. … If you think about it in terms of the Russian Revolution and Mayakovsky saying “the streets are our brushes, the squares our palettes,” it’s about art going beyond the museum and blurring the boundaries between art and life.’

“Obrist also notes that there is a long-standing tradition, particularly in Egypt, of contemporary artists using the street to mount performances or install works. Indeed, several contemporary Egyptian artists, including Susan Hefuna and Hassan Khan, have used the city as a site for their work, both before and in response to the uprising. …

“As Anthony Downey, the director of contemporary art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, editor of ibraaz.org and a speaker at the summit says, the region has ‘antecedents in graffiti-based pro­tests,’ citing those against the Shah of Iran before his flight from Tehran in 1979 and the graffiti and posters used in Beirut during the civil war in Lebanon.”

What a hoot that this art has been taken up by auction houses like Sotheby’s! But on the whole it’s good for the artists. I know what a great moment it was when the favela artists from Brazil were able to sell their work in the movie Waste Land.

Read more here.


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Michelle Aldredge once again introduces me to an artist I knew nothing about. Check out her wonderful post about the artist Slinkachu at her blog, Gwarlingo.

Like Banksy, Slinkachu is part of the London street art scene, Aldredge writes, but  “is everything Banksy is not — subtle, empathic, poignant, contemplative.”

I won’t try to replicate her post but will just mention that I especially like “The House of God” and “Dreams of Packing it All In.”

The photos are copyrighted by Slinkachu. If he doesn’t consider this “fair use,” I can take them down.

Update: He is in NYC until tomorrow, Oct. 7, 2012. Read up, here.

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About a year ago, I read an article in the Boston Globe about an elusive British street artist known as Banksy. Some Banksy-style art had appeared on a restaurant wall alongside a parking lot in Chinatown, and rumors were flying that Banksy himself had snuck into Boston under cover of darkness to make his mark.

My office is quite near Chinatown, so with very few clues, I set out one lunch hour to find the art. A woman thought I looked lost. She was sure she knew where the restaurant mentioned in the newspaper was located. She didn’t actually, but I followed her a while and had a nice chat. She was amazed to hear what I was looking for: “Banksy? Banksy was here?!” It took a couple lunch hours, but I finally got this picture.

And I wasn’t the only one taking pictures. The parking lot attendant looked very annoyed. A year later the art is covered with ordinary graffiti, sprayed-on tags. I never did hear if it was an authentic Banksy, but I really like it.

If you want to know more about street art in general and Banksy in particular, see the offbeat documentary “Exit through the Gift Shop,” in which Banksy has to come to LA to rescue a street-art exhibition that takes in an awful lot of people.


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