Let’s talk about a controversial street artist whose artwork works have turned the art world upside-down. This Bristol-born street artist has managed to rise to prominence while largely going unnoticed, making him one of the most well-known street graffiti artists in the world.
Would you have believed that a common person who was frequently pursued by police on the streets when he was a young man would one day become a maestro of graffiti, artist, activist, filmmaker, and all-around provocateur?
Banksy, as he preferred to be called has created a well-known body of work popularly called Banksy’s work that is both permanent and transitory and combines sarcasm, subversion, gallows humor, and cynicism to communicate major societal, political, and humanist messages to the broader public by sticking to the ideals of street art.
In 1990–1994 he began his career as a freehand graffiti artist. He started using stencils in 2000 after seeing how much faster it was to produce a piece. Ten years after, he appeared alongside Lady Gaga, Steve Jobs, and Barack Obama on Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2010.
The rest of this article will show you why Banksy artwork is famous, how many of his works can be found around if his real name became known and where his artworks are located.
What art piece is Banksy’s most famous?
Girl with Balloon is without a doubt one of Banksy’s most well-known works.
It is a piece of street art that shows a young girl reaching for a red heart-shaped balloon. This famous Banksy piece was created in 2002 as a part of a London street art series.
Nevertheless, because the original artwork was accompanied by the phrase “There is always hope,” this is one of the most well-known pieces that represented a different aspect of Banksy’s character.
However, the paintings from the series have all been taken down from the walls, but sets of the extremely rare, limited edition Girl with Balloon prints, which were released in the 2000s, are still available.
Yet, the image of the girl grasping for a purple balloon that sold for more than $1 million in September 2020 is still the most expensive print ever to be sold at auction.
Girl with Balloon is Banksy’s best-known artwork. Over $1 million was paid for it at auction. Although Banksy has produced numerous other pieces, this is unquestionably his most well-known.
The Mild Mild West, painted in 1997 to replace signage for a closed law firm in Bristol, is especially noteworthy since it is his first-known large-scale mural.
The truth is that it’s impossible to know for sure how many of Banksy’s pieces there are because he frequently produces new ones covertly.
Although the majority of Banksy’s works are in the UK, he has also produced art in other nations like the US and Palestine.
How many Banksy works are there?
Because Banksy is a street artist and many of his creations are anonymous, it is impossible to determine the exact number of his pieces.
There is no exact estimation of how many of his works of contemporary art he has produced, even though they can be found all over the world.
He is one of the most well-known artists of his generation, and his work frequently contains political and social commentary. He also uses a particular stenciling method. Because of this, Banksy’s paintings have brought in millions of pounds in sales and have been displayed in galleries and museums all over the world.
However, it could be challenging to estimate how many works are still in existence because some might have been destroyed or vanished. However, we’ll quickly examine ten of Banksy’s most recognizable works of art to demonstrate his inventiveness.
1. Flying Balloon Girl
One of the most timeless pictures of the twenty-first century is Banksy’s Girl with Balloon. In 2005, Banksy painted it as one of his most well-known political messages on a wall in Israel’s West Bank.
In 2002, this stencil started to emerge in stores in Shoreditch, London. In 2004, Banksy published a print version of the sole surviving image in collaboration with photographer and curator Steve Lazarides. Editions that were both signed and numbered and sold for 150 and 75 respectively.
Many viewers think it’s a remark on the defenseless children who get caught up in the violence between Israel and Palestine and yearn to escape from it.
2. Choose Your Weapon
Choose your weapon first appeared in London in 2010. It is a picture of gang culture and dissatisfied adolescents in Britain. The dog’s simplistic appearance emphasizes how detached from the reality of a weapon’s ability the character is.
One of Keith Haring’s most instantly known images is the Barking Dog. The cartoonish form alludes to Haring’s fascination with Egyptian hieroglyphs. Just a few months before his untimely passing in 1990, Haring decided to include his theme with four of his most famous emblems.
This helps us to understand that Banksy’s dog is modeled after Keith Haring’s well-known piece, Barking Dog.
3. Cash Machine Gun
In North London, near Exmouth Market, Cash Machine Girl first emerged in May 2007. This painting shows a little girl being carried by an unsettling robotic arm that emerges from a cash register.
This mural looks to have an overtly anti-capitalist message, cautioning onlookers about the authoritarian establishment of banks and how you may easily become “abducted” by capitalism, much like other murals like Shop Till You Drop above, or with Banksy’s special edition artworks like Sale Ends.
Capitalism and materialism are recurrent topics in Banksy’s work. Another obvious anti-capitalist message in this painting warns onlookers about the corrupt influence of banks and how it’s simple to get “kidnapped” by capitalism.
4. Very Little Helps
Very little helps also known as Tesco Kids is a street graffiti in Perspex. The mural, which was painted in 2008 on the exterior of a drugstore, shows a covered trio of kids formally pledging their allegiance to the Tesco brand of British supermarkets as one of them raises a Tesco carrier bag on a flagpole.
The image is a criticism of society’s dependency on big business and mass consumption. In 2008, Banksy also published the print of “Very Little Helps.”
Very Little Helps has been vandalized numerous times and is currently partially destroyed, despite being promptly covered in Perspex. The flag has been covered in paint and replaced with a tag created by the graffiti artist Robbo, who frequently vandalizes Banksy’s artwork.
5. Hula Hoop Girl
On October 14, 2020, Hoola-Hoop Girl appeared on social media. On Saturday morning, Banksy officially claimed ownership of the piece after several days of rumors that it had been created by a local street artist.
This artwork features a little girl hooping with a bicycle wheel while the actual bicycle is nearby attached to a lamp pole. A girl is shown hula-hooping while using a tire in the artwork. Lock fastened at the light post next to her, it appears as though the tire originally belonged to the destroyed bike.
6. Kissing Coppers
Two British policemen are shown kissing in the street graffiti Kissing Coppers. In 2004, it was first displayed on the wall of the Prince Albert Pub in Brighton.
Banksy frequently aims at the police in his artwork, but this painting also criticizes homophobes.
Since there are many LGBT individuals in Brighton, the placement of this sculpture was deliberate. However, the piece was removed and sold by the tavern owner after numerous vandalism attempts.
7. Hammer Boy
The image Hammer Boy shows a little boy swinging a hammer at a red fire hydrant with a pipe rising from the top that leads to a spherical red item several feet higher, possibly a fire alarm.
This work was produced in 2013 while Banksy held a “New York Residency” for his art. In this piece, Banksy used the surroundings to supplement his style and created a small boy hammering away with a big mallet.
The observer realizes that the hammer resembles the high striker carnival game hammer after giving it a closer look. Afterward, the pipe that protrudes upward from the fire extinguisher becomes a component of a “high striker” or “strength tester” that is used in street carnival games. The placards next to the pole that read “Sprinklers throughout the building” and “Siamese connection for the fire department” represent the various “point levels.”
8. Escaping Prisoner
Early on March 1st, 2021 on the side of Reading prison, Escaping Prisoner depicts a man ascending the side of the building while wearing a striped prisoner’s clothing and using a knotted rope.
The chain is displayed to be made of paper and to be emerging from a typewriter beneath the man. The Irish poet Oscar Wilde, who was detained in jail from 1895 to 1897 on suspicion of indecent assault with other men, is allegedly meant to be represented by the man, according to some.
After being released from prison, Wilde composed the poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” which may have some connection to the typewriter, about a hanging that occurred while he was serving his term.
9. Banksy Reindeers
In the spirit of the holiday season, Banksy produced a brand-new mural in December 2019 that highlights homelessness. A man named Ryan lies down on a seat that has been changed into a sleigh in a video that was uploaded to the artist’s Instagram account. Two reindeer have been painted on the nearby wall to complete the scene. In just 24 hours, the video has received over 3 million views.
This painting allows rough sleepers to call attention to their individuality rather than exploiting “the homeless,” as was highlighted in the video released on Banksy’s Instagram account and included the sarcastic tune “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
10. One nation under CCTV
One of Banksy’s largest works, it first appeared in London in 2008. He built three stories of scaffolding (behind a security fence), ostensibly under the watchful eye of a CCTV camera, which was situated just to the right of this view, leaving many people puzzled as to how he was able to pull this off. Given the situation, the graffiti’s message is profoundly hilarious. It was later taken down.
What is Banksy’s real name?
Banksy’s name and identity remain unconfirmed and the subject of speculation but he has successfully maintained his secrecy for more than twenty-two years despite several unfounded rumors.
He is not well-known and is known to have frequently rejected interviews. However, he is frequently identified as Robin Gunningham, who was born on July 28, 1973, in Yate, 12 miles (19 kilometers) outside of Bristol.
His autograph may be found on two cassette sleeves from 1993 with his artwork for the Bristol group Mother Samosa. In June 2017, DJ Goldie referred to Banksy as “Rob”.
Although the possibility of learning Banksy’s identity would help us comprehend his goals and mission, no claim had ever been proven. Even his family is reportedly unaware of his identity.
Where are Banksy’s artworks located?
Banksy posted once on the internet. He said “If you want to say something and have people listen then you have to wear a mask. If you want to be honest then you have to live a lie.”
Over time, Banksy’s street art and graffiti art gained worldwide recognition anytime they are seen. He is one of the well-known graffiti painters whose controversial style nearly instantly sparks an uproar wherever in the world.
This is because he is either going locally or internationally, starting in several UK cities and moving gradually to various locations where his paintings support the street art community.
As a result, we have compiled some of his most well-known artworks. However, we cannot promise that they will always be here because the artwork is prone to be vandalized or stolen.
A. Achoo!! – Totterdown
Banksy mural, featuring an elderly woman sneezing out her false teeth, was first spotted on the side of a semi-detached house in Totterdown on December 10, 2022. However, it has been removed from its original location in Bristol and gone to auction.
B. Falling Shopper – London
This enormous stencil, which dates to 2011, depicts a woman and a shopping cart plummeting to the ground from a tremendous height.
It is strategically placed in London’s upscale Mayfair shopping district. It’s intended to spark discussion, in true Banksy fashion, on the dangers of materialism.
This ingenious interpretation of “shop ’til you drop” can be seen perched high atop a concrete office building, where it is hoped that it will stay for some time.
C. Naked Man Hanging – Bristol
The artwork Well Hung Lover was painted by the self-titled graffiti artist Banksy on a wall in Bristol, England’s Frogmore Street. Naked Man is another name for it, as is Naked Man Hanging From Window.
It was painted in 2006 on the side of a sexual health clinic and is the first legitimate work of street art in the UK.
In the stenciled graffiti piece Well Hung Lover, a naked man is shown hanging from a ledge by his right arm while his left arm conceals his genitalia.
Meanwhile, two persons are standing in front of the window, a man in a suit on the left and a woman patting his shoulder on the right. The suit-wearing man is the woman’s husband, and he is supposedly searching for the naked man because he thinks she might be having an adulterous relationship.
D. Rat with 3D Glasses – Utah, US
This unusual Banksy artwork Rat With 3D Glasses first emerged in 2010 as a mural painted on the stage door of the Egyptian Theater in Utah, US.
In it, a rat wearing blue and red 3D glasses is one of Banksy’s favorite motifs. The piece is white. It’s unclear why Banksy incorporates rats into his works of art, but, probably, they do so as both a nod to the “working class” and a nod to the well-known French painter Blek Le Rat. Rat is a word anagram of “art,” thus he utilizes the rodents.
E. Girl on a Swing – Los Angeles
A few days before the Los Angeles premiere of Banksy’s movie Exit Through The Gift Shop, Swing Girl made an appearance in 2010.
Swing Girl, which is situated in a parking lot on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles, is a fantastic illustration of how Banksy integrates his artwork into the urban setting inside the preexisting terrain.
In terms of popularity and praise among graffiti artists, Banksy painting is without a doubt the most well-known and respected. His artwork has been interpreted as satirical, hilarious, tragic, and speculative by certain people. Others might interpret it as straightforward vandalism as a reaction to his displeased with the government and the limited expression of the people to vent concerns against public opinion.
However, the article thoroughly outlined why he chose to conceal his identity, why his street graffiti is the most well-known of his creations, and the numerous locations where they may currently be seen.