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New Banksy Mural in London

New Banksy Work Appears. Vandalism, Statement, or Art?

A new work by artist Banksy appeared on a wall today in London. The mural shows a child raising a plastic shopping bag as a flag. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he will have to force retailers to reduce the use of plastic bags if they do not take action voluntarily.

Banksy is a pseudonym for a well-known British graffiti artist. He is known for his beautifully detailed, unauthorized works, which usually include a deeper social message. One work, painted on the Palestinian side of the wall surrounding the West Bank, shows a trompe l'oeil image of a hole broken through the wall and a little boy on the other side.

In his manifesto, Banksy points to a graffiti campaign waged in 1974 against the wrongful imprisonment of a man named George Davis. The omnipresent tags reading "G. Davis Is Innocent" brought the matter to the attention of the Home Secretary, who re-examined the case, ultimately leading to Davis's release.

Though his work as an artist isn't entirely legal, his talent has inspired fans, like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, to spend $2 million on his work.

My question is this: Just because it's well-done and created with a higher purpose, is that enough to elevate Banksy's work from common vandalism? At what point does art eclipse illegality? How would you classify his work?


Join The Conversation
ladychaos ladychaos 9 years
Nobody complains about Fafi...and some of her work can be sexually explicit. But yea, Banksy (just like Fafi), can do no wrong in my eyes when it comes to art. They are talented, and Banksy is great because he uses his talents to portray a message. Keep doing the good deed of informing people without verbal slurs or violence!
td323 td323 9 years
Meaningful & Poignant. The placement of art and the statement it makes due to placement is a powerful tool. Well done. I commend the artist.
grmcrkr grmcrkr 9 years
I love his work. Banksy is speaking to the public in one of the last few ways they will listen.
Nosoj-N-Niltac Nosoj-N-Niltac 9 years
Art, or vandalism it does not matter what the work is happens to be the same as our comments, self expression, freedom of speach, Well I love it but the one thing that bothers me, his Identity, ANOMINITY=COWERDICE
Sparkitus Sparkitus 9 years
Xian Xian 9 years
I'll happily put up with any graffiti that is this good. On my car or not.
artloverco artloverco 9 years
Guerilla art is one of the best ways to bring forth current issues in the world and shine light on things in a different way (outside of the mainstream media - newspapers, tv, etc.) Public art makes you stop, look, and think. The fact that it is illegal is part of what makes it appealling - people want to feel like they are part of something "underground" even if it's just passing by and looking at it.
lizzys126 lizzys126 9 years
i love banksy
Artex Artex 9 years
most graffiti artists go by some unwritten laws that include not hitting up schools or churches. "tagging" is more of a gang related term, those are the idiots who write "JOKERX13" or some other stupid shit everywhere. graffiti is illegal, but its still art.
Trixie6 Trixie6 9 years
IMHO - He's no better than the random tagger who hits a church or school or someone's house. Artistic value, it doesn't matter whose eyes it's in, doesn't justify breaking the law.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
Pink- I misread your post, I'm sorry.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
As far as Banksy's work being illegal that's actually up to the owner of the building or place where said work has appeared. There's a Banksy piece in Bristol I believe that was commissioned by Bono (of U2). The piece is of a hotel maid sweeping the dirt off the street below the work and lifting the building to hide the dirt away. At first the city government was up in arms about the work. However, the owner of the building like the art work. He saw the message behind the work and wanted the piece to stay. The people of the city saw the work and loved it. The loved the message behind it and disagreed with the city government over whether it should stay or be removed. In the end the building owner and the public won out over the government who wanted to dictate what is art and where it should be placed for the people - the masses to view. He has also "graffiti-ed" the wall the Israelis put up in Gaza. He painted on the Palestinian side. It actually very beautiful stuff he created there. The Israeli government once they saw the work he was doing didn't like the message he was delivering. They sent to Israeli military to try to force him to stop painting through threats of physical violence. The thing was Banksy actually had permission from the government and the people on the Palestine to do the work and to continue painting. So he continued painting while the Israeli military pointed automatic weapons and a tank at him threatening his life. The people, the peasants and old people of the village he was near came out and stood between Banksy and the Israeli military until the military stood down after receiving orders for the PM that the PM was not happy that a British Citizen was being threatened for no good reason. The people on the "wrong side" of the Gaza wall have protected those pieces because they see the idea/message he was trying to send them and the see the beauty and humor in it. Now another funny thing - Tony Blair famously railed against a tag that Banksy did which sits on a walkway and faces Parliament across the river. The tag say "This is not a photo op." It an extremely clean tag. It looks like it could be official except the message is odd. Funny thing is after Tony Blair's diatribe against it people/tourists sought out this spot and started taking photos beside it and as far as I've heard - the Brits have left it there because tourists have traveled to have their photo taken with this tag. It has created a bit of revenue for the government so now they like it.
Artex Artex 9 years
all banksy is trying too do is get his message out there, and its working so he wins.
pinkdragonfly pinkdragonfly 9 years
Yeah wackdoodle I was agreeing with you! Sorry if the last part of my comment seemed like it was directed at you, it was actually directed elsewhere! :)
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
Pink that is exactly what I said - "Each individual decides for themselves whether something is artistic or not. Artistic value is determined by whether once the individual decides that something is art and whether they feel that the art has enhanced or detracted from their perception of art." If you (the individual) decide that something is art then you (the individual) also decide whether said art has any artistic value and what level of artistic value you (the individual) want to assign it. People will try to tell you that a piece of art has some assigned level of value but truly they cannot and they should know that they cannot. If one assigns artistic value to a piece based on someone else's opinion then the value assigned to said piece has no value.
foxie foxie 9 years
Good God, it wasn't literal. The fact that art is up to the individual only furthers the point that a line has to be drawn somewhere. Since this art infringes on others' rights, I think it has obviously crossed a line (no kidding, since it's illegal and all).
x_juicyfruit x_juicyfruit 9 years
Very well said, pink. I could hug you for that, lol!
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
Is it a man?
pinkdragonfly pinkdragonfly 9 years
Well said, wackdoodle! I definitely agree that art is defined by the individual... so, *I* decide what has artistic value! And so do you. But you do not decide what has artistic value in my eyes. :) No matter how hard you might try.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
His moniker has something to do with where he was raised in Bristol. He's not been specific as to what because then it would be to easy for people to identify exactly who he is because they could publish photo's of him etc. All info on his website including instructions and catalog of his work. As far as art dealers selling his art for millions of Euros. Banksy has only had one or two official sales of his work. All of the work being sold at auctions by art dealers is stolen from where it was placed on the street. It's been sold without his authorization and without the artist receiving any of the proceeds. When he sells his work - he does it via shows that he's had and he has been there (incognito) to decide whether or not the person wanting to buy the work is "worthy" of his creations. He wants to know that the purchaser "gets his work" and isn't just collecting it to sell for a higher price later.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
And that argument gets much more heated than this one. :rotfl:
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
"Who decides what has artistic value, anyways?" Each individual decides for themselves whether something is artistic or not. Artistic value is determined by whether once the individual decides that something is art and whether they feel that the art has enhanced or detracted from their perception of art. Mondrian vs Michelangelo. Which is art? Which had artistic value? Which is better or worse? All are determined by the individual viewing the presented work.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
This is off topic, but does anyone know why he's called Banksy?
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
Ah, that's the question for the ages. There was a time when people didn't consider impressionism art, or cubism. It's an ever changing definition. It's largely a matter of opinion what has artistic value or how much it has.
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