Banksy: What do we all know concerning the road artist? |

Status: 03.06.2022 5:18 PM

Images, street art with controversial themes, seen on walls and buildings all over the world, political and consumer criticism – this is the world of street artist Banksy. Art historian Ulrich Blanche has written several books on Banksy.

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6 minutes

Mr. Blanche, what do we know about this Banksy character?

Ulrich Blanche: It is very likely that he is a white male under 50 years old. It may have been a man with red hair and someone who had a cleft lip at some point and had facial surgery. However, it is also possible that all this is not the case.

Where do you get these assumptions?

Blanche: I’ve been involved with the artist for a very long time, especially early Banksy, and Banksy starting in the late ’80s, and even around 2005 – and that’s what I find most exciting. During that time he has given many interviews and in many descriptions of people who have seen him this seems to be constant.

Being confused about who you are can also be a recipe for success, right?

Blanche: yes. Looking back, if you know how it happened, it seems very calculated. It is the person who has become successful mainly on the street, i.e. who created business illegally. And if he shows his face, he can no longer work because the police are at the door the next day.

There was also Banksy who was some kind of foam painter – you can’t even imagine that day. In the late ’90s, he painted trucks at festivals, as a natural, very friendly person. At some point it turned into the illegal and disappeared more and more. From 2002/2003 it is no longer physically available.

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Banksy's work is being sold at Sotheby's "Love is the basket" by public auction.  © dap bildfunk / Sotheby's Auction House / AP Photo: Haydon Perrior

5 minutes

The artist’s deliberately damaged work was auctioned off three years ago under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London at a record price. 5 minutes

Since the mid-nineties, these pictures painted on the walls can be seen in very different places. Couldn’t there be imitators too, and you don’t even know what the real Banksy is?

Blanche: There are many imitators and there are always some that the press or other people consider real. The only real thing is what Banksy himself has endorsed on his website or on his Instagram account or what has been advertised as true in his three or four books. There are some things in his early work that are debatable, but they are also the most interesting. But everything that was created in the last 20 years and not documented can already be forgotten, it is by someone else.

He himself refuses to sell his business – yet Banksy’s business is trading at crazy prices. Is he a victim of his own success?

Blanche: Banksy cannot currently be purchased through a gallery as it is not currently represented by a gallery. It’s been part of a larger group gallery for a long time, and you can also buy Banksy’s work there. But with the increasing success, it became less and less. Today it is very difficult to buy anything from Banksy himself. All that’s for sale now are some things he sold at some point when he wasn’t making much money. These are the people who have bought something of it for £50 and are lucky enough to see you at auction for a few million.


Hamburg fair entrance "Banksy's Secret - The Mind of a Genius" © NDR Photo: Patricia Batlle

The exhibition “The Mystery of Banksy” can be seen from today until October at the Mönckebergstraße in Hamburg. more

There is now also a traveling exhibition: “Banksy’s Secret – The Mind of a GeniusCopying his street art. How would he like it?

Blanche: I think paradoxically. There are many Banksy tour fairs that are not licensed by him. There are some places where Banksy does not make prints, paintings and sculptures but at least they are authorized by Banksy. This is a gallery not largely without these things; Someone copied or reprinted these things.

How will he deal with that? mixed. He’s not the Gerhard Richter incredibly associated with Origin Aura. He has said in previous interviews that he wishes one day his motifs would be badly painted on bags, or his motifs would be painted on experimental posters by someone. He himself set up exhibitions in empty shops. I think making money off of it annoys him, but he doesn’t mind the way it is presented. Banksy Gallery can always be recognized by the fact that there is no entrance fee. If you see a Banksy gallery anywhere that costs €22 to get in, it’s not a Banksy-licensed gallery.

What do you think of these exhibitions, especially the one that is currently opening in Hamburg?

Blanche: I looked at the site, did a lot of research and the organizer asked me if I wanted to participate. But I decided not to. As an art historian, I don’t find it entirely uninteresting how people who copy something like this judge him. But for me it is sometimes strange to know when works are copied. You can tell that this is someone who can technically copy a work of art, but it’s always an interpretation. A person ignores things that are not very important to them – but I know they are. It may be useful to some people as a starting point to take a closer look at the artist – I wouldn’t go to such an exhibition myself.

led the interview Misha Criscott.

More information

Hamburg fair entrance "Banksy's Secret - The Mind of a Genius" © NDR Photo: Patricia Batlle

The exhibition “The Mystery of Banksy” can be seen from today until October at the Mönckebergstraße in Hamburg. more

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Culture NDR | The magazine | 06/03/2022 | 5:15 pm

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