Issue #8 - Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Posted by Denny Hatch
BANKSY: Invisible Artist, Self-Marketer, Multi-millionaire
One of the very few snapshots of the elusive Banksy affixing his painting onto a bare wall in the Brooklyn Museum.
“I’ve wandered round a lot of art galleries thinking, ‘I could have done that,’” Banksy once wrote. “These galleries are just trophy cabinets for a handful of millionaires. The public never has any real say in what art they see.”
One day Banksy discovered his sister throwing a large number of his paintings into trash, “and I asked her why? She said, ‘It’s not like they’re going to be hanging in the Louvre.’”
Banksy was inspired. “I thought, why wait until I’m dead?”
During one week of March 2005, Banksy slipped into four major New York City Museums—The Met, MOMA, American Museum of Natural History and the Brooklyn Museum.
Using very strong glue, he stuck onto unused walls brilliantly painted, weirdly wild pictures such as the faux 17th century portrait below shown hanging (briefly) in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum.
One amazing result: hundreds of gallery-goers paused in front of these elaborate put-ons and then moved on without a clue they were being had.
Curators eventually removed the pictures. But Banksy could claim his works had hung in major museums.
The Bristol Mural
One morning in late June 2006, the city of Bristol awoke to find a Banksy mural high up on a blank wall of the Brook Young People’s Sexual Health Clinic, “one of the biggest providers of sexual health advice for young people in the U.K.,” according to the clinic.
The mural was executed in the dead of night atop a 20-foot ladder. Banksy created a tense scene in which a cuckolded man—presumably a husband—angrily is looking out the window. Behind him, looking worried and guilty is his wife in scanties. Hanging off the windowsill is her stark naked lover.
Brook Clinic’s medical director Annie Evans e-mailed Banksy to say her team at the clinic are “bouncing with joy.” She wrote, “Did you realise how utterly appropriate your latest subject matter was, given what goes on in the building?... Thanks a bunch and we’ll do our best to look after it.”
Fame and Fortune
Over the years, Banksy has blitzed the UK with hundreds of graffiti images in myriad styles: 17th century realism, Impressionist, Op/Warhol, Pop Art, comic book and cartoons from silly to sinister, happy to horrifying, always outré and outrageous.
He has also produced an avalanche of paintings and lithographs for sale. He even decorated a live elephant for the opening of his American exhibition in Los Angeles.
His works have sold at auction for six figures up to $1.1 million at Sotheby’s, Christies, Bonhams and, of course on eBay
Banksy has never been officially photographed and operates in the deep shadows.
Takeaways to Consider
• By covering the UK with brilliant graffiti—giving away his art FREE!—Banksy generated massive media coverage worldwide.
• He is a master of creating wants.
• He is currently worth $50 million.
• He welcomes Visitors.
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