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Banksy the Graffiti Artist

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Banksy's Ice Cream Van at the Bristol Museum
The 2009 exhibition by Banksy at Bristol Museum
Banksy's urban art Cato Street, Bristol
Urban art by Banksy at Bristol's Cato street
Graffiti Street art in Bristol
Graffiti street art on a Bristol City wall
Urban Graffiti at Montpelier Bristol
Urban Graffiti street art at Montpelier Bristol
Street Graffiti by Banksy
Selection of street graffiti by Banksy
Museum Exhibition Graffiti at Cato Street Wall Graffiti Urban Art at Montpelier Urban Art Bristol
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The graffiti art by Banksy is well-known in Bristol (and now the world) although he, as an identifiable person, is not. He prefers to keep his identity under wraps and shys away from publicity.

However, over the passage of time more details about his true identity have come to light.

His true name is believed to be Robert Banks born in Yate near Bristol in 1974. The son of a photocopier engineer, he trained as a butcher but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s.

His artworks are often satirical pieces of art which encompass topics from politics, culture, and ethics. His street art, which combines graffiti with a distinctive stencilling technique, has appeared in London and in cities around the world including New York and Los Angeles.

Banksy began his career as underground graffiti artist in Bristol, England circa 1989 and his first solo exhibition was held at the London gallery Cargo in 2001; his first U.S. exhibition was in Los Angeles in 2006.

The artist is believed to have admitted to experiencing difficulties in school during his youth and drifting toward a life of petty crime after he was expelled, and said that he had spent some time in jail. At some point he left Bristol for London.

Interesting Fact

Hollywood couple BRAD PITT and ANGELINA JOLIE splashed out $2 million (£1 million) on artworks by Bristol artist BANKSY at an exhibition in London on 11th October 2007.

Banksy first tried his hand at urban street art when he was 14 years old. He soon realized that he was simply not quick enough with the spray-paint can to create the exuberant, multicolored works on the sides of buildings, road bridges and underpasses, or urban walls.

The more time an image took him to make, the higher the chances of his being picked up for vandalism by the police. To speed up the process, he began to cut out stencils at home of images or phrases he wanted to paint. Some of these were comic depictions of metropolitan London police officers in their distinctive uniforms but engaged in unlikely activities, or of rats, monkeys, or storybook style children hugging missiles.

Sometimes he just put up an official looking sign with such words - "By Order of the National Highways Agency This Wall Is A Designated Graffiti Area."

By the turn of 2000 Banksy's peculiar but comical figures had become something of a cult phenomenon in London, with his fans always on the lookout for new work. Many in the city's younger vanguard of artists centered in the East End came to know him, and were appreciative of his work's artistic merit.

One of the first conventional exhibitions of his art was held in a warehouse in 2000, but in his characteristically unconventional fashion Banksy gave out only the street number for the building and not the street.

As mainstream interest in his work began to grow, he concocted elaborate deceptions to shroud his identity, usually carrying out interviews via telephone and using trusted friends to handle sales of his work.

Watch video of Banksy's 2009 exhibition at Bristol Museum:-

The more well known Banksy became came greater danger of being caught spray painting on public sites, and so he began to undertake more elaborate, one-off stunts.

He got into the penguin compound at London Zoo and stenciled on a wall - "We're bored of fish".

in October of 2003 he probably donned the uniform of a museum worker to hang one of his own paintings on the wall of the Tate Gallery. It depicted a bucolic country scene bounded by police tape, and the identification tag below it read - "Banksy 1975. Crimewatch UK Has Ruined The Countryside For All Of Us. 2003. Oil On Canvas."

He did a similar stunt in 2005 at four major museums in New York City, including the Museum of Modern Art, which decided to add the piece to its permanent collection.

In 2005, Banksy received massive media attention for a show at an art gallery in London's Notting Hill that featured 200 live rats scurrying about as part of the art viewing experience. To stop any health risk, the vermin had been specially bred to be free of disease.

He explained the reasoning behind the rodents in a rare interview as an attempt to be - "deliberately entertaining. I wouldn't cross town to see an exhibition of paintings, but I
would cross town to see 200 rats."

Banksy's art works have appeared in several places outside of England, including the Palestinian side of a wall in the troubled West Bank. His nine images were a commentary on what would probably expand to become the world's largest manufactured human barrier, with one of them depicting youngsters digging to get to the other side.

In September of 2006, Banksy, with the help of some trusted friends, inserted 500 fake CDs of Paris Hilton's debut release, at music retailers in several major U.K. cities. Unwitting buyers bought his remixes of Hilton's songs, which were tagged with new titles, such as - "Why Am I Famous?".

Banksy's Los Angeles show in 2006 was attended by several celebrities, among them Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Christina Aguilera, and Macaulay Culkin, and received an impressive amount of press coverage; even featured on Good Morning America. He was incognito on the opening night.

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He said he chose Los Angeles as the site of his first major U.S. exhibition because - "Hollywood is a town where they honor their heroes by writing their names on the pavement to be walked on by fat people and peed on by dogs. It seemed like a great place to come and be ambitious."
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Banksy