Nov 17, 2011

REVIEW | Wall and Piece, Banksy, The Random House Group, 2006

Banksy is a pleasant break from the modern art world, in both his work and his ideals on art.

All artists are prepared to suffer for their work, but why are so few prepared to learn to draw?
Banksy's presence in the art world has been both secretive and outlandish, from personally sticking his paintings in galleries to exhibiting his own shows, indoors and outdoors. Banksy's work is always seen in the spotlight, a feat he doesn't seem to take lightly in his book Wall and Piece. Calling graffiti "unspoilt by progress" and coining the term "Brandalism" as any advertisement that gives you no choice. Banksy definitely presents some points that everyone should read.

Banksy, Liverpool, 2004

Whether it be killing Van Gogh's sunflowers and blaming the petrol station or trashing a Monet painting it doesn't appear hes bashing the artists of the time as much as hes bashing the modern era. Thats not to say artist are exempt from harassment, or anything else for that matter.

Banksy has no quarrel with speaking his mind, as he makes clear on one of the first pages of the book, and follows it up with "so this won't take very long." Calling graffiti one of the more honest art forms available because of its lacking of both elitism and hype. He goes on to explain how the people who run our cities don't understand graffiti because it doesn't make a profit, but graffiti that makes a profit is only advertisement which Banksy describes as the true defacement of our neighborhoods.

Imagine a city where graffiti wasn't illegal, a city where everybody could draw whenever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall - it's wet.

Banksy's illegal endeavors are as controversial as they are diverse, re-emphasizing the point that no one is exempt from judgement and harassment. Making Banksy an internationally acclaimed artist and criminal. Regardless of the legality of his works the points brought up in his book are clear and lightly worded. Making for an easy and very interesting read.

18 minutes, Chalk Farm, London, 2008
When the time comes to leave, just walk away quietly and don't make any fuss.

- Jacob Jones


  1. ContributorNov 20, 2011 02:11 PM
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  2. ContributorNov 20, 2011 09:08 PM
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  3. ContributorNov 20, 2011 09:12 PM
    Banksy rings out as one of my favorites in the graffiti art world. I put his work closely to that of Shepard Fairey, of the OBEY fame. I suppose I am drawn to the controversy that is manifested in Banksy's work, and, in part, for the fact that it cannot be referred to as simply 'tagging'.
    -Blake Knox
  4. ContributorNov 21, 2011 10:34 AM
    I've always loved Bansky's work and am glad you chose to write about him. From reading the blog now I want to read his book and learn his viewpoints on graffiti. Graffiti is one of my favorite art forms and I think it should be more appreciated in the art world. Thanks for sharing.
    -Anna Julian
  5. ContributorNov 21, 2011 07:39 PM
    And yet Banksy has entered into that phase of artistic popularity where he is capable of making enormous sums of money for his work. Where as at one time his work was condemned, it is now treasured. He is able to make a healthy living off of work that was supposed to be "art for arts sake" because the very people that he was rebelling against (like the city of London) now makes it a crime to "remove" his work (whereas at one time they the government couldn't remove his work fast enough).
    How does Banksy solve this problem of his art now making him well-known and rich, when its intended purpose was to provide art as pure free expression and anonymity?

    I imagine he both enjoys and hates his own paradoxes and contradictions.

    --Jonathan Peters
  6. ContributorDec 1, 2011 11:24 AM
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  7. ContributorDec 1, 2011 11:25 AM
    Now that I have read the review I'm interested in reading this book. It's hard for me to think about Banksy and not think about his documentary, "exit through the gift shop." I am kind of torn on what to think about what you have quoted from him about people not understanding graffiti when it doesn't make a profit when he sells his own work. Now I'm not bashing the fact that he makes money off of his art, as a matter of fact I think he should be able to do whatever he wants with it. What I do find interesting is that he is viewed differently in different parts of the world. Much like the graffiti works he did in Afghanistan angered a lot of people because of their political tones where in which they criticized him and called him a law breaker because graffiti is illegal. However in London, like Jonathan said, it is now a crime to remove his artwork. I feel that Banksy is always making some sort of comment on something. Even the fact that he sells some of his art and also that in parts of the world he is famous while in others he is infamous is Banksy constantly making comments to societal systems around the world.

    -John Hall
  8. ContributorDec 5, 2011 06:16 AM
    Bansky is probably one of the only graffiti artists I really know of. Im not huge into it, but I do enjoy it. You did a good job of fitting information into the small amount you wrote! We all secretly want to go out and do what Bansky does everyday.

    - Erin Davis