Things you need to know about graffiti artist Banksy for pub conversations

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Now when Banksy prints are mentioned over beers you'll know the facts...

Banksy

© Getty - Handbag

You've probably seen pictures of Banksy's art, but how much do you really know about the elusive British graffiti star?

The anonymous satirical artist has been sprayed painted across the news recently, after he set up a secret market stall in New York selling his wares for cut-prices.

The original signed canvasses were sold in Central Park for £38 each, but they're worth a staggering £20,000!



Banksy is currently doing a high profile residency in New York, so he's guaranteed to come up in conversation down the pub in the next few weeks. We're not saying you have to become an art critic over night, but a little background knowledge never hurt anyone, did it?

Here are eight key facts that should keep you going until the conversation inevitably turns to The X Factor...

1. Okay, so who exactly is Banksy?

Technically, no one knows, he's completely anonymous. However, he is thought to have been born in Bristol in the early seventies. He rose to fame in the late 1990s by stencilling provocative pieces on Bristol streets. Recently, some sources claim Banksy is former public schoolboy Robin Gunningham, although this hasn't been confirmed.

2. What's his work all about?

There's almost always a political leaning or message - created using a combination of striking stencil images and slogans. Past themes explored by Banksy include war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed.

Banksy beefeater guard image

© Banksy



3. Does he have any recognisable trademarks?

To date, Banksy's most common subjects include rats, apes, policemen, members of the royal family and children.

4. Does he just do graffiti?

Nope, Banksy likes installations and 'moving art', like his 'Sirens of the Lambs' (see the video below). One of his most celebrated pieces, which featured a live elephant painted with a Victorian wallpaper pattern, sparked controversy among animal rights activists.



5. What's all this about him being a thief?

Okay, so technically he's not a thief, but he is known for taking copyrighted material, like Monet's water lilies, and adapting it with trash cans, rubbish and traffic cones.

6. Since when did graffiti become art?

Banksy's street tags caught the attention of collectors who soon realised they were one-off sought after items. Some experts refer to 'The Banksy effect' as a way of explaining how graffiti has developed into street art. Interest in the artist intensified in 2010, when a film was made about him called Exit Through the Gift Shop. It was nominated for an Academy Award and correlated with a sharp rise in the price of his works - think hundreds of thousands of pounds.

When a piece was stolen from North London it appeared on the national news...



7. So, is he really the golden boy of street art?

He's undoubtedly the most famous in mainstream art culture, but many of his contemporaries accuse him of being a sell out. Critics argue that his anti-capitalist, anti-fat cat art is undermined by his own net worth (roughly £20 million). Take a look at the debate here.

8. Do you know any great trivia facts I can impress my mates with?

Errr yeah, loads! Check out some other snippets below...

• He used to tell his mum he was a house painter!
• His collaboration with Damien Hirst sold for over $1.8 million at auction.
Christina Aguilera owns three works by Banksy, including Queen Victoria As a Lesbian, which sold for about $38K.
• He donates thousands of pounds to eye charities to help blind people see again.
• He designed the opening Bart Simpson chalk board gag on an episode of The Simpsons. Sweet.

Are you a Banksy fan?

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