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The Importance of Being Banksy

There are
many legendary artists that shaped the art, or at least some particular spheres
of it. And if you are among those people, who think that grand masters are the
product of the past, you should definitely check out Banksy. This is the person
who almost singly-handed took the street art to the next level and increased
its popularity with art dealers and galleries.

So what has
Banksy actually done? First of all his incredible irony combined with the sense
of style and deep knowledge of the art history gave him an ability to create
unique, relevant and timely works. They are contemporary, but have the roots in
the history of modernism. The choice of topics also enhances his credibility as
an artist: they are bold, accessible, and reliable. He speaks out about things
that bother people nowadays. Banksy is quite sarcastic, but the message he
passes through is quite optimistic and sometimes even kind.

He issued a
couple of books (five to be specific) of a high importance for the world of street
art. This particular area of art drastically lacks the theoretical basis. At
the time of its birth and for many years after, historians and critics did not
acknowledge street art as a part of the mainstream art. The huge part of its
development was missed, and debates are still not finalized. That is why the
literature is very important for the movement, especially the theoretical
materials. Banksy’s book “Wall and Piece” (2005) was a hit and remained a best seller
for several years after publishing.

“I use
whatever it takes. Sometimes that just means drawing a moustache on a girl’s
face on some billboard, sometimes that means sweating for days over an
intricate drawing. Efficiency is the key.”

Banksy is
famous for the diversity of the techniques he is using. His classical tool is
stencil and can paint, but he also does installations, poster art, paintings,
collages, drawings, exhibitions and even his own conceptual theme park Dismaland.

 And of course, his
directorial debut, the documentary Exit
Through the Gift Shop,
which was nominated for the Academy Award in 2010.
This is profoundly important work not only from the street art point of view.
It is a conceptual movie with a very interesting view and outcome.  The movie focuses on the story of Thierry
Guetta and his obsession with filming street artists. He captures many
of them, aiming as high as Shepard Fairey and Banksy. After getting acquainted
with the latter, he decides to become a street artist himself, and after a
while Guetta organizes his own big show. After the huge promotion and
publicity, his works are sold for almost million dollars in total, despite the
questionable quality and overall pretentiousness. The movie itself raised the
debate of the commercialization and basically advertisement in the world of art.
Every museum or exhibition is arranged in a way so the visitors would exit
through the gift shop. What does this fact tell us? It raises many complex
questions about art and business, talent and commercialism, publicity and mass-media.
Carefully directed by Banksy himself, this movie might be a pre-arranged
project; but even if it is true, Exit
Through the Gift Shop
gives us plenty to think about, and maybe even a
chance to solve a mystery of its original concept.

Mystery
indeed is a big issue in Banksy’s image. His unknown identity and provocative
oeuvre proved to be quite a successful combination, but his contribution into
the world of art is amazingly broad and efficient.      

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