Banksy is easily one of the most elusive artists of our time! Having kept his identity a secret for years, the sneaky stencilist has still gained international recognition for his politically charged, large-scale images and for his no restraint devil-may-care persona in the graffiti world. So, check out these 33 interesting facts about Bristol’s rapscallion, Banksy.
Fact 1: Banksy was supposedly born in 1974, so he’s currently 45 years old.
- He’s believed to have been born in Bristol, England.
Fact 2: He started off as a freehand graffiti artist,
- In the early 90’s, Banksy was a member of Bristol’s DryBreadZ Crew.
Fact 3: Banksy has always used his street art and “urban interventions” as his medium for giving critical commentary on major global issues.
- Much of his opinions on terrorism, political authority and capitalism are reflected in his street art and distinctive stencilling techniques.
Fact 4: In 2001 he opened an exhibition of his work at a restaurant in Bristol which was owned by friends.
- All his pieces were a mixture of stencil and acrylic artworks and were priced under £1,000.
Fact 5: Some people say that Banksy’s real name is Robin Gunningham.
- Named after Robin Hood, because nobody really knows who or where he is.
Fact 6: Banksy was inspired by the works of the ‘under-the-scene’ artists in Bristol.
- Some of these artists were part of the DryBreadZ, which eventually led to him joining the gang.
Fact 7: In 2006, Christina Aguilera bought two Banksy prints for a hefty price: £25,000.
- Banksy’s larger works, such as his “Slave Labour” mural are thought to be worth more than £400,000.
Fact 8: Banksy often describes himself as a ‘quality vandal’.
- Banksy work has purpose, meaning, feeling and cause – which is different to your average underground wall graffiti!
Fact 9: In 2005, Banksy’s opened his “Crude Oils” exhibition in Nottinghill where he displayed some of his iconic paintings that he had “re-mixed,” adding various elements and motifs of his own.
- Visitors were in for quite a surprise as 200 live rats roamed freely within the gallery space as part of the exhibit.
Fact 10: Banksy is quite the philanthropist and has a soft spot for charities that help people who are blind.
- Banksy has been raising money recently for a charity in New York by selling his latest artwork.
Fact 11: His 2006 show, “Barely Legal” was held in a Los Angeles industrial warehouse and featured an elephant painted red with a stencilled fleur de lis pattern in gold over its body.
- However, the show didn’t sit well with animal rights activists who petitioned against the use of the elephant.
Fact 12: Banksy’s work can be found in towns and cities in all parts of the world.
- He has murals in Bristol and London in the UK, San Francisco, Melbourne, New Orleans and the Israeli West Bank.
Fact 13: U2’s Bono allegedly commissioned Banksy for the painting “Sweeping it under the carpet”.
- The large-scale image can be found on a wall in Chalk Farm, north London, and is seen as a metaphor for the West’s reluctance to tackle issues such as Aids in Africa.
Fact 14: Banksy joins the ranks of French street art masters, Blek le Rat and Jef Aerosol.
- Blek le Rat and Jef Aerosol are both pioneers in street art. Blek is often credited as the first graffiti artist in Paris.
Fact 15: In 2011, Banksy was up for an Academy Award for best documentary for his debut feature film, ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’.
- However, the man of mystery was denied the chance to attend the event because there were fears that impostors would gatecrash the event.
Fact 16: The director Alfonso Cuarón approached Banksy about having a deeper artistic involvement in the 2006 film “Children of Men”.
- In fact, there’s a Banksy artwork in the background of the movie.
Fact 17: Despite his anonymity, Banksy was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2010, alongside Steve Jobs and Barack Obama.
- In true Banksy fashion, he provided an image of himself with a paper bag over his head for his profile picture.
Fact 18: He has acquired a huge celebrity following, with many A-list actors, musicians, fellow artists and athletes supporting him.
- Damien Hirst, Justin Bieber, Serena Williams and Angelina Jolie, have reportedly purchased his work.
Fact 19: Banksy’s missing “Slave Labour” mural was sold for more than $1.1 million at a private auction.
- The stencil depicts a child toiling over a textile machine making Union Jack bunting.
Fact 20: His identity has remained a closely guarded secret to this very day.
- Technically, graffiti is illegal, so anonymity is vital to Banksy.
Fact 21: In 2006, Banksy painted an image of a naked man clinging onto a windowsill of a family-planning clinic.
- The mural was entitled, “Well Hung Lover” and can be found on a wall on Frogmore Street, Bristol, England.
Fact 22: Banksy’s “Girl with Balloon” shredded itself just moments after it was sold for more than £1m by Sotheby’s in London.
- Fortunately, the woman who bought the framed artwork decided to keep the painting despite it self-destructing.
Fact 23: The ‘Banksy Effect’ is a term used to describe the increased interest in street art following Banksy’s popularity.
- Banksy’s followers view controversial street art as a means to make a city more colourful, more diverse, and more engaged.
Fact 24: Banksy published his book called “Wall and Piece” in 2005.
- It features the street artist’s graffiti works, as well as his thoughts and ideas.
Fact 25: In 2010, he created the opening-credit sequence or “couch gag,” for the episode “MoneyBart” on The Simpsons.
- The episode first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 10, 2010.
Fact 26: Banksy has a print company called “Pictures on Walls”.
- It’s funded by Gorillaz’ co-creator Jamie Hewlett.
Fact 27: Banksy won the ‘Greatest Living Briton’ award in the arts in 2007.
- Although, he didn’t show up at the ceremony to claim his award.
Fact 28: Simon Hattenstone scored a face-to-face interview with Banksy himself in 2003.
- According to Hattenstone, the enigmatic street artist looks like a cross between Jimmy Nail and Mike Skinner of the Streets.
Fact 29: In 2015, Banksy opened Dismaland in Weston-super-Mare, England.
- The theme park was a sinister twist on Disneyland, and Bansky himself described the place as a family theme park not suited for kids. The ginormous pop-up exhibition opened on August 25, 2015, and closed permanently 36 days later.
Fact 30: Banksy added a twist on Monet’s “Water Lilies” by replicating Monet’s original painting and adding two discarded shopping trolleys and a traffic cone into the pond.
- Banksy’s odd tribute to Monet is labelled “Show me the Monet”.
Fact 31: Despite the number of famous people wanting to get their hands on Banksy’s artworks, the graffiti artist has expressed reservations about the degree of commercial success he has gained.
- He viewed commercial success as a form of failure for a graffiti artist since that’s not how they are supposed to be embraced.
Fact 32: In 2017, Banksy opened his second major-scale project, “The Walled Off Hotel” in Bethlehem.
- The building is found alongside the barrier wall that separates Israel from Palestine, and advertises itself as having “The worst view of any hotel in the world.”
Fact 33: The elusive graffiti artist printed a bunch of fake £10 notes in 2004.
- The fake banknote featured the face of the late Princess of Wales, Diana, and instead of having the “Bank of England” written on it, the paper bill read “Banksy of England”.