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January 4, 2013 3:57 PM   Subscribe

I found Banksy's notebook. These ideas and sketches may one day grace the walls of your local bank, or the book section of your local Urban Outfitters, but until then, here’s a sneak preview:
posted by Rory Marinich (83 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
As someone who has long harbored a distaste for Banksy, I absolutely love this.
posted by broadway bill at 4:03 PM on January 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


Some enterprising HTML 5 rockstar should create an app that lets you create a banksy by dragging and dropping dollar bills, gas masks, rats, Hitlers, etc. The app is also Hitler wearing a gas mask throwing a dollar bill.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:09 PM on January 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


Not to threadshit but was this Banksy-pisstakery not all played out at least 3 years ago?
Seriously.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 4:11 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


For a long time, I actually thought that Banksy was a real person. Recently I was talking with somebody who was involved with this. Did you know that Banksy is an artists' collective? Banksy is actually a whole bunch of people, creating art under one name.

I don't think they want anybody to know this and I'm worried about repercussions. That's why I'm posting this comment using somebody else's account.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:11 PM on January 4, 2013 [14 favorites]


Knowing absolutely nothing about the author except for this and his other piece recently featured on Metafilter (and some of his tweets since then), I am fully prepared to start pursuing Boring As Heck for marriage or beer buying or whatever else he may be up for.

Again, much funnier than the whole thing has any right to be; the following two speak to me like few people have:

  • Ronald McDonald wears an army uniform. He is holding a giant French fry like a machine gun. He has a Hitler mustache. The mustache is also a French fry.
  • Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor is held at gunpoint by an Israeli soldier. In the background, Wilson peers over the West Bank barrier.


But I'm not sure if quoting them out of context is the right thing to do. In fact, I think it ruins what's best about it. Because the progression is it what makes it work so well, and he has a real knack for it.

(Hey, you know what's funny and SUPER interesting -- when people who aren't you try to deconstruct why a joke is funny to them. Stick around and I'll tell you about this dream I had last night...)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:13 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hitler pets a cat. The cat is also Hitler.

It's legit!
posted by Artw at 4:13 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Tiananmen Square tank photo, except the tank guy is looking the other way and texting someone on his iPhone.

To be honest, I kinda think this one is pretty okay (minus the George W. Bush head).
posted by mhum at 4:14 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I only like paintings of horses.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:15 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not to threadshit but was this Banksy-pisstakery not all played out at least 3 years ago?

A man posts the words OLD HAT on a forum.

The hat is actually a gasmask. The forum is Hitler.
posted by griphus at 4:16 PM on January 4, 2013 [45 favorites]


Some enterprising HTML 5 rockstar should create an app that lets you create a banksy by dragging and dropping dollar bills, gas masks, rats, Hitlers, etc. The app is also Hitler wearing a gas mask throwing a dollar bill.

Here I made you it.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:19 PM on January 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wow, 2bucksplus, I finally now understand why people want the img tag back.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:21 PM on January 4, 2013


(I just want you to know I actually made that. I have looked into the eyes of the beast, and it was the Blingee registration process).
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:23 PM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Look mister, brainwash somewhere else.
posted by davebush at 4:25 PM on January 4, 2013


Did you know that Banksy is an artists' collective? Banksy is actually a whole bunch of people, creating art under one name.

I don't think they want anybody to know this and I'm worried about repercussions.


The first rule of Banksy is that nobody stencils about Banksy.*

*/Banksy's raging gasmask
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:27 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Banksy is actually just a big binder of rules for creating street art, much like the binders they use to run a McDonald's franchise.
Where the employees are all Hitler.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:33 PM on January 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


But the binders are a french fry. Wearing a gas mask.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:34 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


You've got that rainbow feel,
Such good responses,
You've got that rainbow feel,
But the rainbow has a beard.
posted by tommasz at 4:36 PM on January 4, 2013


I wasn't there, but somebody told me what it was like when they first started "Banksy"; the first meeting of these artists, the first time they came up with the idea.

They gathered in a coffee shop. One of them ordered a simple latte. Another took the idea of a latte and elaborated, resulting in a latte macchiato. There was some serious discussion about whether they should make art that just reinforced the current caffeine, or whether it was better to go completely decaf. One artist spoke up and said "what if we don't drink coffee at all?"

I think that was the turning point, as more and more artists began to drink the Kool-Aid. That group of people became Banksy. They were the ones who realized that the coffee house hadn't been keeping track of who ordered what, and that coffee and Kool-Aid were free for the taking if only they all stuck together and left at the same time, leaving "Banksy" with the bill.

So that's the way it all started... a way for a bunch of impoverished artists to get free drinks. After that it spread, because they couldn't afford canvases either, so they drew on walls. And the rest is history.

Banksy still owes £60 at that café.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:38 PM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Bansky's art clearly takes a certain amount of skill (ie time spent improving on one's chosen art) and it is an art that clearly attempts to bridge "high" art with "low" art like a lot of good street art does. He also attempts to create conversation about topics of the day in a venue accessible to everyone.

In conclusion: This is my subjective opinion and in no way is attempting to impact anyone else's opinion. With that caveat (and the knowledge that my next statement is a fals dichotomy) I just want to say that I am totally ok with Banksy being one of the most widely known visual artists as opposed to, say, Damien Hirst.
posted by sendai sleep master at 4:40 PM on January 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


He also attempts to create conversation about topics of the day in a venue accessible to everyone.

The conversation is shaped like Hitler eating a french fry.
posted by jquinby at 4:41 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Banksy is actually just a big binder of rules for creating street art, much like the binders they use to run a McDonald's franchise.

I have binders full of Banksies.
posted by Peevish at 4:49 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the record, I pretty much agree with sendai sleep master about Banksy.

Heck, I even follow some parody Twitter accounts but that doesn't make the author's previous take down of them, which, like this, exaggerates characteristics in a humorous way, any less funny to me.

I guess anything that can take that piss out of something this well, even something I basically 'support, is also something I appreciate.

And that appreciation is made out of blood (or oil?)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:52 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]



The conversation is shaped like Hitler eating a french fry.

Ok, yes, but would anyone like to lay out an actual argument as to why they find Banksy's work ineffective. I understand if you don't find it to be your personal cup of tea but I earnestly would like to hear if/why you think it fails as art.

Has it become too much of a brand and, thusly, has become what it set out to mock thus making it no longer effective?

Do you think that Banksy, as an anonymous figure or figures, simply points out easy targets in the social/political landscape and then, by nature of his/her/their anonymity, fails to lead by example? Is it because they're purely a messenger and not taking part in the hard work of progress towards change?

Do you think there are far more interesting things, aesthetically, going on in the art/street art world at the moment?

Do you find the imagery he uses from pop-culture to be cheesy or lacking in impact, why?

Those all seem to be valid arguments and one's which I think would make for excellent discussions regarding Banksy's work. With that being said, I'm sick of conversations regarding culture and art boiling down to the following dichotomy

"Is thing X Y or Z too popular or too hipster/twee? Yes or no answer."
posted by sendai sleep master at 4:54 PM on January 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


Poor old Banksy.
posted by Artw at 4:56 PM on January 4, 2013


Maybe it could be combined with this to make a Banksy Commonplace Book of unspeakable terror?
posted by Artw at 4:57 PM on January 4, 2013


I like Banksy. Which, given my age and general demographic, may not be the endorsement you were looking for.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:58 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like Banksy. I especially like his movie Exit Through the Gift Shop. I also like Damien Hirst. I do think that if Bansky were not Bansky, Banksy would be making fun of Banksy.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:01 PM on January 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


Exit Through the Gift Shop

The alternative title was "This Way to the Egress".

I kid you not.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:07 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm declaring Bankrupsy.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:08 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've hated Bansky ever since the bailouts.
posted by srboisvert at 5:08 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like Banksy. I especially like his movie Exit Through the Gift Shop. I also like Damien Hirst. I do think that if Bansky were not Bansky, Banksy would be making fun of Banksy.

I know and, as I hope I communicated in my comment (apologies if I did not), I realize that it's unfair to attack Hirst here. I realize Bansky would be making fun of Bansky. I just think he'd be making fun of Bansky in a way that points out why Banksy shouldn't be as revered as Bansky is rather than taking shots at Banksy's subjects. I supposes that's why I find the original slacktory link to be funny but not uproarious.

I think there's certainly an argument to be had about how Bansky's work isn't as effective as it could be and this link does a good job of beginning that conversation. I think something like the HTML request that Ad hominem suggested would be a better/funnier critique about a weakness in Banksy's brand of cut and paste art (which also has many strengths).

Ok, I'll stop overly griping about an admittedly humorous link now.
posted by sendai sleep master at 5:08 PM on January 4, 2013


Welcome to Metafilter, Banksy.
posted by chrchr at 5:10 PM on January 4, 2013


The problem with this is that he's got fiver or six observations about Banksy pieces and he's mixing and matching them as he goes. This is understandable if you're doing stencil graffiti in random places in a major city or three and no one is every going to see them all. It's incredibly tedious if you put them one after another in a bullet point list.

The bullet points are Hitler.

Wearing the pope's hat.

The hat is explosive.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:13 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


We're all Banksy now.

Mission accomplished.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:15 PM on January 4, 2013


Weirdly, these parodies are much closer to the stuff Mr Brainwash does, and anyone who's seen 'Exit Through The Giftshop' will know Mr Brainwash's story, and wonder whether or not Mr Brainwash is actually a long-form joke by Banksy.

tldr: These parodies mock what people _think_ banksy does, but miss the mark of what he actually does.
posted by memebake at 5:20 PM on January 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


And what Banksy does is a story too large for these margins.
posted by boo_radley at 5:23 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


The only person I am allowed to reveal as one of the Banksy group is Nicolas Bourbaki.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:30 PM on January 4, 2013


Or to put it another way - if you image search 'hitler banksy' you'll find a lot of banky-esque stencils involving Hitler, but I'm pretty sure none of them are actually by Banksy, even though people might say they are. Problem is that pretty much any stencil graffitti gets attributed to Banksy these days.

Can anyone link me a confirmed Banksy work that involves Hitler? I don't know of any, but perhaps there is one, or maybe two.
posted by memebake at 5:31 PM on January 4, 2013


Charlton Brooker's takedown from a few years back.

"One of his most imbecilic daubings depicts a monkey wearing a sandwich board with "lying to the police is never wrong" written on it. So presumably Ian Huntley was right then, Banksy? You absolute thundering backside."
posted by incomple at 5:31 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here, click through some genuine Banky stuff here. It'll be better than you expect.
posted by memebake at 5:36 PM on January 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


People _think_ the word "Banksy" is spelled "Banksy," but they're missing the mark of how it's actually spelled because they're looking at the word "Banksy" but not actually seeing it. The B is Hitler and the K is a dollar bill with Hitler's face instead of George Washington, but Hitler's mustache is a bullet. But just dollar bill Hitler's mustache. The letter B Hitler's mustache is a fake mustache. But most people don't realize it's fake because they don't get it, man.

Can anyone link me a confirmed Banksy work that involves Hitler? I don't know of any, but perhaps there is one, or maybe two.

GOOGLE BANKSY HITLER (seriously, here's a link. I have no idea how many of those are confirmed. Maybe none of them. Who knows? Not me.)
posted by The World Famous at 5:36 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The blurb
posted by growabrain at 5:36 PM on January 4, 2013


I have no idea how many of those are confirmed

That was my point.
posted by memebake at 5:39 PM on January 4, 2013


I was joking.
posted by The World Famous at 5:40 PM on January 4, 2013


I didn't get it.
posted by memebake at 5:41 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It failed as art.
posted by The World Famous at 5:44 PM on January 4, 2013


I've found your notebook
posted by memebake at 5:45 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


but I couldn't read your handwriting.
posted by memebake at 5:46 PM on January 4, 2013


Between Banksy and parodies of Banksy not by Banksy, I'll take Banksy or parodies of Banksy by Banksy any day.
posted by Miko at 5:58 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think Banksy suffers from the expectation of always producing super-politicized commentary when sometimes, I'm guessing, he just wants to do something to make some people smile. A lot of his work is just very fun, playing with expectations and perspectives, or building on some shit tag or doodle somebody put up. I mean, not everything Picasso did was Guernica, but dude was pretty good at art.
posted by Mister_A at 6:05 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


My gripe with Banksy is mostly independent of the quality of his stuff. He's an excellent stenciler, and I certainly appreciate the skill involved in cutting those fuckers and piecing them together and painting them. I appreciate some of his wit, too (although the whole thing is a little didactic and slim sometimes), even though things like the FPP link reveal the simple nature of a lot of it.

I mostly dislike him because, as someone with a personal history in good ol' fashioned graffiti writing, I am obligated to.
posted by broadway bill at 6:07 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


For more humor in the same vein: Tupac Shakur's Commonplace Book
posted by edeezy at 6:09 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


broadway bill, your honesty is like a breath of fresh air - breathed out by a walrus on Ellesmere Island. A walrus smoking a cigarette. A cigarette wearing a gas mask. Smoke issues forth from an aperture in the cigarette's gas mask. The smoke is shaped like Hitler. Hitler is the walrus.
posted by Mister_A at 6:13 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, yes, but would anyone like to lay out an actual argument as to why they find Banksy's work ineffective. I understand if you don't find it to be your personal cup of tea but I earnestly would like to hear if/why you think it fails as art.

It's art. It's fun. It can be good art to some people, no doubt. But for me it's pretty ineffective as "high" art and this is why:

It doesn't recontextualize my life. Everything he does is stuff I already know, or is more complicated than he seems to be saying it is. Good art, for me, is something where I walk away able to see the world differently. It's a new tool in my box of descriptions and metaphors.

Banksy's work is pretty decent in that it's impressive and captivating and daring, but it's also pretty... shallow or simplified, or done before.

That said, his narrative as a whole is pretty decent art, and his views on graffiti vs. advertising at first glance seem philosophically interesting to me and I'd like to know where I can read up on them or if there's a better source of them.

I'd love to hear someone who loves his work go into detail about why they love a few of his pieces. A blow for blow account of why it affects them. And I ask this with the understanding that writing about art is hard, and that you get to like something for different reasons than I do.
posted by tychotesla at 6:16 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


It doesn't recontextualize my life

Unlike...what, Renoir? Mahler? Did they "recontextualize your life?"

What's "high art" in your definition?
posted by Miko at 6:18 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess a critique of Banksy would go something like this: just as the low-grade use of antibiotics actually strengthens bacteria in the long run by pressuring them to evolve resistance, the commoditized rebellion that Banksy produces inoculates the establishment against true revolutionary thought.
posted by Pyry at 6:30 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just came back from seeing the first image you'll see on the Frye Art Museum's website (It should be hanging lights, don't know where to find a hard link to the work in question).

That recontextualized the way I see space in a small way. By which I mean later on in life I'll be able to draw on the memory of that to explain something I see or experience.

Someone like Renoir is generally uninteresting to me. I might feel differently if I had a way to relate his way of seeing society to my own experiences of society, but I haven't. I'd probably feel differently if I knew more about his work or French history.
posted by tychotesla at 6:31 PM on January 4, 2013


Someone like Renoir is generally uninteresting to me.

Like Banksy, then?

the commoditized rebellion that Banksy produces inoculates the establishment against true revolutionary thought.

And what inoculates the revolutionaries against establishment thought?
posted by Miko at 6:34 PM on January 4, 2013


I liked the STOP Hammertime one. I also like Banksy.
posted by arcticseal at 6:37 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


TFA was funny, but if anyone thinks it's representative of Banksy at all that someone should give a good flip through Wall and Piece-- his beef with the gallery system and the resultant guerrilla installations in galleries, etc. is among some of the more interesting stuff to come out of the last decade.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:44 PM on January 4, 2013


I edited this piece (that means I changed some of the dashes to em dashes and I moved the picture) and I'd like to say why I loved it: Anyway, I am heartily encouraging Boring_As_Heck to continue mocking various things, as he is excellent at it. I will continue to heartily edit and publish them as well. And thank you so much for looking at them and talking about them, even and especially those who think Banksy's actually pretty good.
posted by NickDouglas at 6:44 PM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Do you think there are far more interesting things, aesthetically, going on in the art/street art world at the moment?

Can 'legit' sources, as in highly funded curators, make street art? So Boston's Occupy had a good several months on an empty lot dead center in front of the fed. Note the big blank wall that was not painted on once during occupy. They were moved out during a cold spot with cold efficiency.

Now not quite a year later the local modern art museum had a showing of these famous artist brothers from Brazil.

So they arranged for a public display of these artists officially from the Mayor/arts council for a year. I think this guy looking over the park that was occupied is just nice.
posted by sammyo at 6:52 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah Brazil has some of the better street art that I've seen (at least as far as Wooster Collective feels like showing me).
posted by shakespeherian at 6:57 PM on January 4, 2013


And what inoculates the revolutionaries against establishment thought?

Empathy, poverty, and the War on Drugs.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:58 PM on January 4, 2013


And what inoculates the revolutionaries against establishment thought?

The proletarian dictatorship that lives in their hearts and minds, obviously. But, more seriously, I do think there is some merit to the complaint that Banksy's work makes legitimate grievances (like about police brutality) seem more juvenile and easily dismissed, in the same way that using neologisms like "AmeriKKKa" or "Micro$oft" or "USians" trivializes and distracts from their underlying issues.
posted by Pyry at 6:59 PM on January 4, 2013


I am not Banksy.
posted by item at 7:11 PM on January 4, 2013


No he's not.
posted by item at 7:12 PM on January 4, 2013


Liars!
posted by item at 7:12 PM on January 4, 2013


if you image search 'hitler banksy' you'll find a lot of banky-esque stencils involving Hitler, but I'm pretty sure none of them are actually by Banksy, even though people might say they are. Problem is that pretty much any stencil graffitti gets attributed to Banksy these days.

Banksy is to Generic Cheeky Template Spraypaint Graffiti as Moby/Aphex Twin is to Generic Techno MP3s on Napster
posted by filthy light thief at 7:29 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sammyo: I knew instantly that your link went to something by Os Gemeos, who are a great example of why I don't care much for Banksy. Os Gemeos are writers, by any standards. They understand, appreciate, and take part in straight-up street graffiti. Banksy, on the other hand, has evolved into something like an unauthorized co-opting figurehead for anything done surreptitiously with spraypaint.

Street art is fine. I get it, and I like a lot of it (Banksy's true predecessor, Blek Le Rat, was a huge influence on me as a young graff writer). What I don't like is how Banksy has brought some of that world into the wider cultural conversation. I fume when I hear middle-age rich white men talking about how "that new Banksy is breathtaking and so pleasant, not like those damn tags those damn taggers do."

So. Banksy, street art, etc...; I get it, but it is not graffiti writing, and I think graffiti writing is a much more meaningful thing than most Banksy stuff is, it's just not something that can easily be sold or explained to the uninvolved.

And yes, I know this is all really silly. And no, I don't expect anyone to agree with me. But, like I said before, as a writer I have certain obligations to The Union, and disliking Banksy is one of them.
posted by broadway bill at 7:47 PM on January 4, 2013


Banksy's stuff is extremely powerful art.

Let's take start with my favorite series, the pieces he did on the Jerusalem Wall - example. I find these very wistful and at the same time very strong politically - the wall has cracked and there's an oasis beyond it where children can play. (And note that he had to get behind the barbed wire and the armed guards to do this...)

There's also a strong element of playing with and re-inventing classic works in visually startling ways. Here's a favorite, with the Lascaux cave paintings (i.e. paintings on the side of a wall!) being erased by a worker. Calmer but sweeter is this piece, using themes reminiscent of classical Japan. And it isn't just fine art - this piece reworks the famous Pulitzer prize winning photo of two women falling off a New York balcony into the fall of capitalism.

I think this duel between Banksy and King Robbo speaks for itself. In particular, note his technique of re-appropriating other people's sloppy sprawling graffiti as an element of his very neat and minimal pieces.

Sometimes he's just savage. This piece of a lynched Ku Klux Klan member appeared in Alabama during his American tour. It was immediately removed, even though the town was advised that the piece would be worth at least $100K to them...

Here's a really fantastic compilation which includes several of the above pieces.

I've also seen two non-graffiti pieces. One was his mesmerizing installation "The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill" in an old pet store in the West Village with animatronic animals and food... really one of the most surrealistic and witty things I ever saw, I laughed out loud several times (the videos on site make it pretty clear I think).

And then there's "Exit Through The Gift Shop" which is simple the best meta/hoax film ever - yes, even better than "F For Fake" since even after watching it and researching it on the 'net, I simply have no idea if it's fake or not.

It makes you laugh, and it makes you think, even if you don't agree with it, and it makes you wonder and it sticks in your mind's eye. What more do you want out of your art?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:57 PM on January 4, 2013 [21 favorites]


What's "high art" in your definition?

Art that's supposed to be seen as "high" art. I use quotes because I don't really think there's an actual solid distinction between "high" art and anything else (others might disagree), but it's still useful as a word because "high" art is often presented and viewed differently.

Like Banksy, then?

Not really. Renoir is uninteresting to me because I don't have a good feel for what he's getting at. I get Banksy though.

And as I said, I'm very interested in Banksy in some ways, it's just that his street pieces are ineffective as "high" art to me. To put it another way I would go out of my way to see his work in the street, but I doubt any good artist I know will ever tell me I should go see some Banksy pieces because they will blow my mind. However "Exit Through the Gift Shop" has been recommended to me that way, and was indeed pretty interesting.
posted by tychotesla at 8:28 PM on January 4, 2013


Thread poster here. I like Banksy and own Wall and Piece. He's not especially provocative for me, not even his Jerusalem Wall bits, but he makes enjoyable things that get young people thinking and talking. I feel about him the same way I do about Kurt Cobain: I don't think he's influenced my life too much, but I like his work and know a bunch of folks who find him inspirational, so he's a Good Guy in my book.

I just like silly writing and thought this was funny. I wouldn't read into it as a meaningful critique because it's not.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:36 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought this was cute and funny and...like...also not really a cutting indictment of Banksy's work? (Which I don't think it necessarily set out to be.) I mean, anything that has consistency or thematic repetition can be parodied, and that doesn't mean it's bad or without value.
posted by threeants at 9:07 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think "high art" is a way for elitist artists or art critics to look down upon others and protect their customers' investments. The rich must be protected from feeling inadequate or common.

Also, while art may be sold, it isn't necessarily intended to cause you to reflect upon -your- life or your worth in existence. It's often meant to draw new ideas and emotions out of you or cause you to get in the artist's head.
posted by DisreputableDog at 9:57 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes he's just savage. This piece of a lynched Ku Klux Klan member appeared in Alabama during his American tour. It was immediately removed, even though the town was advised that the piece would be worth at least $100K to them...

Back in the 90s I had a Jim Thiebaud deck with a lynched klansman graphic.
posted by ZipRibbons at 11:41 PM on January 4, 2013


To really appreciate Banksy, you have to understand something about modern art. This takes at least one paragraph to explain.

The history of painting begins with the creation of images. We could begin with the cave paintings of Lascaux, or the simple reproduction of religious iconography, or the dutiful reproduction of kings and other nobles; the earliest attempts at painting were attempts to pair the creation of images with the most important facets of human existence, because these reproductions were hard to do, involving a fair amount of time and skill.

Early in the previous century, it became increasingly easy to make an image. Right now it's trivial... hold your cellphone and press a button. But during the last century there was a transition in importance between the simple manufacture of an image and the potential relevance that the product - the image - could have. Early efforts in modern art began to question time-honored assumptions of image-making. What is an appropriate subject for an image? Should the image correspond to the subject, or should it reveal something about the maker of the image? Is it possible for an image to depict something that can't be sensed through the eyes? Can an image reveal something beyond simple graphic reproduction?

Banksy takes this quite a bit further. Is it necessary for a painting to appear on a canvas? Is it necessary for art to be produced by a single artist, or is collaboration possible? If art reflects the artist, what does it mean if the artist is completely anonymous?

I've used up more than my allotted paragraph, so I'll stop here, but please don't underestimate the impact that Banksy has on the progression of the visual arts.

How many other contemporary modern painters can you name?
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:08 AM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Those ten pound notes he printed with Diana's face on them instead of the Queen, it's not burning a million quid, but it's up there... given that Diana has effectively been wiped out of history, especially in the popular media, it's art, it's politics, it's practicably treason.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:45 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think art is dead. Really. I don't think people look at art the way they did during the last centuries. There are so many images, so many sources of visual stimulation, that the process of image-creation has gone the way of the scribe. And good riddance! We've made progress when any 14 year-old can Photoshop somebody's head onto a picture of a cat. Really. Art - specifically visual art, painting and drawing as a Thing - is completely unnecessary now.

We have to accept that.

There's a crude tradition in the visual arts to say "art is dead" every so often. But this time I mean it.

It's a completely natural evolution. It's happened over and over again throughout history.

Remember long ago when the shamans could make fire and we all thought they were hot shit? No? It was a very long time ago. But all of us can make fire now, because we have butane lighters.

Remember when musicians could have a Number 1 hit, the top of the Top 40, and they would get lots of airplay because they were Number 1 and there were only 40 or so other choices? Remember when there were only 3 big TV networks? Remember when your best friends were always people who lived in your town, or went to your school? Remember how small that world was?

That's when we needed art. We had that then, but it's gone now, and it won't come back.

We needed Shakespeare and Michelangelo and Freud and Sartre and Warhol and The Beatles. We needed the handful of inspiration that could fit through the tight-ass tiny bandwidth that our old technologies provided. But we don't need that anymore.

Every person is a genius. Find a way to bring out their genius. Find a way for us to share our genius. Everybody is an artist.

Art is dead. Long live Art!
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:27 AM on January 5, 2013


given that Diana has effectively been wiped out of history, especially in the popular media

what?
posted by dubold at 4:31 AM on January 5, 2013


I think "high art" is a way for elitist artists or art critics to look down upon others and protect their customers' investments.

Yes. But it also ends up being useful shorthand to describe a style of engagement people have with a piece of art.
posted by tychotesla at 6:13 AM on January 5, 2013


I think art is dead. Really. I don't think people look at art the way they did during the last centuries.

Another way to look at it is that it's more embedded, alive, integrated, personal, democratic, multifaceted, and abundant than ever in human history. Hooray!

it also ends up being useful shorthand to describe a style of engagement

I can't agree. Part of my work is understanding the kinds of interactions people have with art and other objects, and phrases like "high art," given their connotations, really only confound this discussion. The very example of Renior was meant to help reveal the utter shakiness of the term, and it's no question that most scholars of European painting would laugh you out of the room if you suggested a bunch of flourescent tubes hanging in a room was "high art." It's entirely subjective. Most often, "high art" reflects establishment approval or just approval on the part of the person making the evaluation.

One of the results of doing this work is that I have come to reject the very idea of a hierarchy of artwork or of art viewing experience. You can say a lot of things about a work before reverting to the practice of slotting it into some sort of ranked structure, and those things are orders of magnitude more interesting and lead in new, not trammeled, directions.
posted by Miko at 7:41 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


We needed Shakespeare and Michelangelo and Freud and Sartre and Warhol and The Beatles. We needed the handful of inspiration that could fit through the tight-ass tiny bandwidth that our old technologies provided. But we don't need that anymore.

This is wholly wrong. I know plenty of Tumblr-craved high school hyperactives, and sure, they like animated gifs and information firehoses and time-wasting nonsense, but as a group they're far more likely to appreciate classical literature or assorted art movements or great music than any other high school cross-section. My younger brother uses Google Hangouts while he does his homework for its video queue section – he and his friends load up the queue with various interpretations of classical pieces, and last time I eavesdropped, they were arguing about whether Anner Bylsma had a better feel for Bach than Yo-Yo Ma.

The entropy up top doesn't negate the value of the great art which lasts for centuries and centuries. On the contrary: the more creativity happens up top, the easier it is to appreciate the greats in comparison.

Everybody is an artist.

Everybody could be an artist. Most will never be, though, and that includes plenty of people who try and fail to be one. We have more artists now than ever before, but let's not assume this battle's won yet.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:42 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


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