Banksy is an anonymous England-based street artist, political activist, and film director, active since the 1990s. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique. His works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges throughout the world. Banksy’s work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. Banksy says that he was inspired by 3D, a graffiti artist and founding member of the musical group Massive Attack.
Banksy displays his art on publicly visible surfaces such as walls and self-built physical prop pieces. In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for Exit Through the Gift Shop. In 2014, he was awarded Person of the Year at the 2014 Webby Awards. In 2014, young adults from abroad named Banksy a British cultural icon in a list that included William Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth II, David Beckham, The Beatles, Charlie Chaplin, J. K. Rowling, Elton John, and Adele.
Banksy once characterised graffiti as a form of underclass “revenge”, or guerrilla warfare that allows an individual to snatch away power, territory and glory from a bigger and better equipped enemy. Banksy sees a social class component to this struggle, remarking “If you don’t own a train company then you go and paint on one instead.” Banksy’s work has also shown a desire to mock centralised power, hoping that their work will show the public that although power does exist and works against you, that power is not terribly efficient and it can and should be deceived.
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