I am a huge fan of Banksy, the faceless graffiti artist from Great Britain with a wry sense of humor and an affinity for social commentary. Before I was introduced to Banksy and other graffiti artists, “graffiti” was merely unattractive gobbledygook resembling children’s handwriting spray-painted on walls, bridges, stop signs, and train cars. But Banksy and others take “graffiti” to new heights – in some cases, literally.
If you are the creative type and you haven’t watched his Oscar-nominated documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, I highly recommend putting it into your Netflix queue. Banksy is a ballsy genius – he once painted murals on the West Bank barrier in Israel and has personally hung his own framed art in world-renowned museums as a prank. His work has fascinating legal implications involving ownership rights and copyright law (not to mention that he’s vandalizing property), which I plan to explore these issues in future blog posts.
With the Olympics in the graffiti art capital, I expected to see several appearances by Banksy. And he didn’t disappoint. Just check out his website. The Olympics Committee rules with an iron fist on the use of its trademark rings and flame, and due in part to the Olympic attention, many graffiti artists had their work painted over. Yet Banksy installed on a wall somewhere in London a javelin thrower hurling a missile with no country name just the five Olympic rings on his uniform. Jonathon Keats of Forbes magazine called this image “the most iconic image of the Summer Olympics.” And it’s a beautiful piece of …graffiti.
Mr. Keats concluded that Banksy deserves a gold medal, and I couldn’t agree more. He gets a 10.0 from me. Banksy is one icon in a new era in art – like a Warhol, a Picasso, a Dali, a Monet. His work is intelligent, edgy, humorous and provocative – and most of the time installed illegally. And in the event Banksy reads this, I would love it if he sent me two signed prints (one for my sister) or some Lady Di Notes too! Check out his work and let me know what you think.