Ed note: This was written for a now defunct livejournal in 2007. So funny to go through these old reviews and see that I wrote about things like Game of Thrones and Banksy before they became household words, covered int he New Yorker. I was once kinda withit I guess, fifteen years ago.
Century 2006 207 pages
“Nobody ever listened to me until the didn’t know who I was”
(Banksy or a co-conspirator putting one of his works up in the Brooklyn Musem)
I’ve always been a fan of street art, loving graffiti from the minute I saw Beat Street in my parent’s suburban home. I am not going to argue that every tag is beautiful, but some definitely are, and I defy you to point out a visual medium that engages the public more than graf.
Still, a lot of it is pretty boring. Kids writing their names on walls can only hold one’s interest for so long*
Already bigtime writer Banksy is a lot of things. Childish, hilarious, often time brilliant, but never boring. He is the most important street artist working today, and I highly recommend you at least look at this expensive art book in the store. It’s amazing.
Using stencils, balloons, posters, markers, traffic cones and whatever else comes to hand, he has created some amazing work. He has hung his own works in major art museums, and he traveled to Palestine to do a number of works on the grotesque wall that separates the West Bank from Israel.
From the book:
Old Man: You paint the wall, you make it beautiful.
Old Man: We don’t want it to be beautiful, we hate this wall, go home.
The work isn’t always good. Some of it is just childish, and some of it is standard graffiti where he’s just pissing on a wall to mark his space, but some of it is seriously down right genius.
Banksy is a serious artist who doesn’t take himself all that serious. Check out his shit, I am sure you’ll be impressed.
*It has been argued that the reson a lot of graf has gotten bad is because of the extremely intense police crack down which makes it impossible to take the time to do better work. I don’t buy this. Look at Banksy’s book, and you won’t either.