Banksy was born in Bristol in 1974, he could embody in many respects the Robin Hood of Street Art and, in general, of contemporary art . In fact, a bit like the champion of Sherwood Forest, Banksy is an artist-hero who avenges the injustices of the world through his art, mocking them, overturning them and mocking them.

What also brings Banksy closer to the English bandit is the difficulty in understanding his identity. In fact, multiple investigations have been carried out in this regard: some assume it is a collective and some assume it is individuals. The most recurring names regarding his identity are those of Robert Del Naja , also known as 3D , frontman of Massive Attack, or that of Robin Gunningham , a name that emerged in a 2008 investigation by the "Mail on Sunday", confirmed by some scholars of Queen Mary University. In any case, anonymity has always been preserved with the strictest confidentiality, and in a certain sense it also represents an added value to the myth of the artist, so much so that this aura of mystery represents one of the many forms with which the artist uses marketing strategies expertly.

An aspect that emerges immediately from Banksy's art is the need for creative reappropriation of public spaces: his works irreverently target the communicative mechanisms of advertising, underlining how easy it is to overturn and distort the original message.


In the early nineties he approached Graffiti Writing , where the local scene was already particularly lively thanks to writers such as John Nation, 3D and Nick Walker. Banksy immediately combined noteworthy figurative skills with lettering.

In 1999 he created his first major work which marks the transition from Graffiti Writing to Street Art: Mild Mild West , which depicts a teddy bear throwing a Molotov cocktail at a group of riot police.


In 2000 he moved to London and began to use stencils intensively . The inspiration for the use of this instrument comes from Blek le Rat and, from the same, he also draws inspiration for one of the most recurring subjects in his works: rats. It is interesting to know that the choice of the animal is not random: on the one hand it is an animal that operates outside the rules and in an insidious way, on the other "rat" is also the anagram of the term " art ".


Two years later he painted one of his best-known works: There Is Always Hope (also called Girl with Balloon ), the same one that on 5 October 2018, made on canvas with spray and acrylic, was sold by the Sotheby's auction house for 1 .4 million dollars . From the estimated 200,000 pounds, after a series of back and forth bids, the auctioneer sold the work for over a million pounds. Just at that moment, a mechanism installed inside the frame began to shred the work itself, reaching almost halfway. Following the event that shook the art world, the work was renamed Love is in the Bin and revalued by Sotheby's at between 4 and 6 million pounds.

The case had unprecedented media coverage and the audacity of the gesture (it is assumed that the artist was present in the room and had decided when to activate the self-destruction process) combined with the artist's own criticism of the system, represented a unique moment not only for the artist but for the entire history of art.

In 2003 Banksy created various works against the atrocities of war, a theme very dear to the artist, while in July he decided to organize the Turf War exhibition in a warehouse in London , in which he exhibited works with various techniques and styles, including iconoclastic reinterpretations of Queen Elizabeth but also spray interventions on living animals.

At the Tate Modern in London he decided to stick up, with double-sided tape, one of his works in style with those present in the room: he hung an idyllic pastoral landscape fenced off by police tape, as if it represented a crime scene.

In 2005 he created the first murals in Palestine and in London he organized the spectacular exhibition event Crude Oils , in which he wanted to place some oil paintings altered by alienating and denaturing interventions. In addition to the interventions on canvas, a skeleton in a guard's uniform and two hundred live mice were placed inside the exhibition room, which distracted visitors from contemplating the works.


In 2006 he reproduced a fake version of Paris Hilton's CD: ironically about the inconsistency of the character, an heiress who released her first and only album in 2006, Banksy produced 500 "fake" copies of the CD and put them on the market consequently, in 42 English shops specializing in music. Also in 2006, in Los Angeles he organized one of his most provocative exhibitions, called Barely Legal : for 3 days he held a 38-year-old Indian elephant in a room, adorned with a damask pattern that also extended onto the walls. The situation recalls the typical English expression "The elephant is in the room": a phrase used to indicate the existence of a big problem that everyone tries to gloss over out of embarrassment. In this case the rather serious "problem" is the lack of drinking water for those living below the poverty line.


In 2008 he decided to organize the Cans Festival in London, from 3 to 5 May, in which around forty international stencil artists participated and, in New York, the Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill : the first decidedly extravagant New York exhibition, in which mixed the characteristics of a pet shop and a fast food restaurant. The exhibition intended to provocatively condemn on the one hand the consumerism of our society, on the other it wanted to denigrate man's ambiguous relationship with animals, seen both as adorable life companions and as food. The works on display were animatronics , mechanical puppets animated in a realistic way with technologies used in the film sector, such as McDonald's chicken nuggets that pecked sauce from a tray or a partially sliced ​​salami that moved as if it were a snail.


In 2009 he organized his largest solo exhibition in Bristol, the Banksy vs Bristol Museum: an exhibition hosted in his hometown which hosted around 300,000 people in two and a half months. The artist asked the museum managers for maximum confidentiality regarding the operation, maximum freedom of action and took on all the costs of the exhibition: the result was around a hundred absolutely extravagant and subversive works, such as the van ice creams vandalized and used as “reception”, classical statues wearing loincloths or having a can of pink paint on their heads.


In 2011 Banksy painted the work Shop Till You Drop on a factory wall in Detroit , a work that intended to strongly criticize the sick mechanics of consumerism.

In 2015 he designed and built the Dismaland amusement park in the seaside resort of Weston-Super-Mare, in a disused seaside resort : just at the entrance, the visitor could drive a motor boat full of migrants or buy their children the balloon with the words “I'm an imbecile”. In addition to Banksy, 58 artists including Damien Hirst and Jenny Holzer also participated in this project, becoming a true collective exhibition. The symbolic work of the exhibition was Cinderella's carriage overturned following a road accident, complete with the princess' "corpse" filmed by the paparazzi. The installation was particularly criticised, as it was an explicit allusion to Lady Diana's death.

In 2017, the Walled Off Hotel opened in Bethlehem , the hotel that guarantees the ugliest view in the world: the one on the Israeli separation wall. In 2019 in Venice, in Piazza San Marco, Banksy proposes Venice in Oil , a stall where he exhibits a polyptych dedicated to cruise ships in the lagoon. In February 2020, during the night of Valentine's Day, he painted a child who, with a slingshot in his hand, hits a heart that explodes in a cascade of red petals, a work unfortunately vandalized two days after its creation.


Banksy has also created several works dedicated to the pandemic, both at his home and in the London Underground: the first was published on Instagram, where his bathroom could be seen painted with several rats turning the space upside down. The post was ironically accompanied by the caption "My wife hates it when I work from home" . Subsequently, on the London Underground he painted a series of rats playing with masks announcing the artist's return “I get lockdown, but I get up again!”

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