Why Banksy Transcends Graffiti Art

“Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.” …Banksy

I’m writing this post for the people who don’t understand why Banksy is such a big deal.

What makes him any different than other Graffiti artists (aka “taggers’), the people who deface buildings and then run away before the police arrive?  The answer, so I believe, is Banksy’s wit.  He does biting social commentary striking a truth that hasn’t been voiced before.  Poets are people who say what others are thinking but cannot say themselves.  Banksy is a poet.  A lot of his graffiti is just writing and not even a picture, but it has such meaning for so many people, that it’s more pertinent than what a lovely painting would be.  There are some other very good taggers in the world. Taggers with technical skills far beyond Banksy’s, but don’t have the connection that Banksy demonstrates with the common man’s soul.

Banksy is a poet, not just a graphic artist.
Banksy’s wit has this element of cynicism, which, maybe because I’m a New Yorker, I like.  On the other hand, maybe because I’m a grouchy old woman.  However, I wouldn’t like it without the wit.  Banksy’s wit is what makes him stand out from the others.

Banksy is so appealing is his connection to the person who lives his life struggling from one day to the next.  An element of graffiti art that one would expect.

Bansky 8
Banksy does very witty social commentary.

In my neighborhood of Staten Island, there is much graffiti on the sides of buildings, but it is mostly gangs doing territorial markings (see following photo):

The usual graffiti.  Meaningless marking or self-serving.  What looks like Pff is a territorial marking of a street gang.
The usual graffiti. Meaningless marking or self-serving like one’s initials as a marker to show they have been there. In the above photo, what looks like Pff is a territorial marking of a street gang and appears all over my neighborhood.  Even the pigeons ignore it as it should be ignored.  

Some taggers have real artistic talent and are doing very clever paintings:

This is very clever and well executed.  The man is very fluid and looks like he is really floating, but it doesn’t have any kind of deep meaning.

 Banksy doesn’t sign his work as other’s who are hungry for fame do, like STOP.

There are other taggers besides Banksy that are great, too, but have not attracted the fame that Banksy has.  Bansky has an unknown quantity or quality, aka “the X factor.”  I think Andy Warhol had the “X Factor,” too.  In the art world, it’s why some artists who have lesser technical skills become more accepted and famous than many people with superior technical skills.

Street Art
By Minhau. This is very cute and enjoyable.  Probably no one would ever deface it out of jealousy, as is happening now to Banksys in NYC, nor object to it being on the side of their building. But, it doesn’t have any deep soul connection as does Bansky’s work.  Although, it brings a smile to the face, it’s not particularly memorable.

The following is one of my favorite Banksy’s:

This hits home with me.  Most of the people I meet don't have any interest in other people.
This hits home with me. Most of the people I meet don’t have any interest in other people.

Some people criticize Banksy because he uses stencils. He makes a stencil in his studio then uses that to paint on the building. (Most graffiti artists don’t have their own studios.)  I think this is a smart way of doing it, because there is a time element in doing graffiti art. You have to do it quickly before the police arrive, or the building owner comes out and starts screaming at you.  As I see it, using stencils just speeds things up.

[Visit my Public/Street Art board on Pinterest to see great street art from around the world.]

2 thoughts on “Why Banksy Transcends Graffiti Art

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