Banksy is one of the most famous living artists in the world, if not the number one. Yet he has managed to keep his identity a secret for all these years! Not once has he appeared on television or in any photographs, and is a complete enigma to any paparazzi. All this makes him a highly curious individual! To help you learn more about the mysterious artist, Artsper have gathered 8 facts you need to know about Banksy!
1. A Bristol man at heart
Banksy was born in Bristol in 1974 and is the son of a photocopier technician. He learned how to do graffiti in his native city, where he was a member of a gang named the DryBreadZ Crew. Nowadays he returns to Bristol on a regular basis, with new pieces of his art regularly appearing on street corners.
2. His inspirations
Banksy has drawn much of his inspiration from the work of a French street artist, Blek Le Rat, who is considered one of the pioneers of street art. He has been specifically influenced by his use of stencils, and his rat-like character, now one of the motifs of his work.
3. Banksy, the invisible man
He hides his identity extremely meticulously, and it has remained a secret since the beginning of his career as a street artist. He uses an third-party to deliver his now famous certifications of authenticity, named Pest Control. One journalist for the Guardian newspaper has claimed to have met him face to face in 2003 for a rather exceptional interview.
4. The first appearance of the “Banksy of England”
In 2004, during the Notting Hill carnival, he handed out fake £10 notes, with the face of Lady Di replacing The Queen’s, stamped “Banksy of England”. Today, some copies of this £10 note can still be bought!
5. Winning “Art’s Greatest Living Briton“
When he wins this very coveted price in 2007, he is also the first not to come get it personally, in order to keep his identity a secret.
6. He had to deal with “ART KEIDA”
One of his sculptures, “The Drinker” is the subject of a documentary. This statue, which looks a lot like the thinker of Rodin, only with a road sign on his head, was in the center of a very busy square in the center of London. It was stolen in the middle of the day, by a movable crane, without anyone noticing anything. The documentary “The Banksy job” will be released in 2016, follows the aftermath of the theft: the ransom, Banksy’s refusal…
7. He sold some of his artworks for $60 on the street
In 2013, in order to denounce the art market’s nonsense when it comes to pricing artworks, he hired someone to sell his printed artworks on the street. Each one of these was sold $60, the lucky people who bought one were absolutely sure it was a fake, because of the price. The video Banksy published the day after soon went viral, and now these artworks are worth $20,000 at auction.
8. Setting street art sales records…
The artwork he conceived in collaboration with Damien Hirst, “Keep it spotless”, sold at auction for $1.7 million in February 2008, thus setting a new kind of record for street-art!