'Banksy: I can’t believe you morons actually buy this sh*t’
After another few days of rumours and speculation around a 'Banksy' mural(this time on the Reading prison), we can all agree that his mystery identity fuels his fame. The still anonymous artist is a superstar worldwide, and he keeps driving people crazy over his overnight wall graffiti.
Regardless of how you may define his expertise and value, he is street smart in every way possible! His anonymity creates a certain tension in public to always be on the lookout for the next big thing. Most of these get stolen, vandalised or even sold against his will. You may be wondering why, but have you ever thought about who gets to own street art?
We think this is the most valuable thing about Banksy: he belongs to the streets. Many of his original artworks do not make sense in their entirety when you remove them from their original context. If we take a second to analyse each work, we can conclude that Banksy is an observer at his prime level, to which the anonymous identity serves him well. The anonymity also can be related to the old vision of graffiti art as a crime, as vandalism and the artists had to cover their identity not to get arrested. In any case, this character is well developed conceptually, it is smart commercially and it is remarkable from a historical perspective.
But going back to 'who owns graffiti'? This is controversial. As mentioned, graffiti owners ideally are all of us who get to see it on our way to work or shopping. That's the primary goal of graffiti: to speak up, stand out and give colour/meaning. In particular, Banksy creates conceptual narratives that highlight specific concerns on a particular place. Banksy is like a book illustrator but in real life. And by continually highlighting everyday realities, he became a challenging artist to compete with. To that, he is also easy to claim and make money from.
"Where graffiti has been applied to the wall of a property, that physical piece of "art" belongs to the owners of the property"
– The Conversation UK
Banksy knows this, surely. And there is very little he can make towards making a profit from that original work because, legally speaking, what he did is vandalism (although different rules apply to him, at least in the UK).
Speaking of collecting Banksy and contributing to his anti-capitalist irony, Christie's is hosting a Banksy sale on the 16th of March, where you will be able to find some of his most treasured screenprints. Click here to see more info.
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