Art 101: Guerrilla Artists

Banksy is typical of graffiti or guerrilla artists, initially mocked and then embraced by the media and the public - often before the art establishment. In 2001 Banky "re-decorated" the neighbours' garage. They had planned to repaint it, then changed their minds. At the time most people thought they were mad - today their taste, wit and genius is acclaimed.

Running through Banksy's Wikipedia article, I was struck by how little his career represented there related to what I remember, so I found news articles relating the events I remember and quoting from them.

Tate Britain, October 2003; BBC | Graffiti star sneaks work into Tate:

A statement from Tate Britain said that a man "had left a personal possession in one of the galleries".
"Tate security discovered the item a short while later and it was removed. It is currently being held in lost property," it added. 

British Museum, May 2005; photo source Wired 13.08: Art Attack

BBC Cave art hoax hits British Museum:

A British Museum spokeswoman said: 
"It looked very much in keeping with the other exhibits, the explanatory text was quite similar." "He has said to us that we can keep it," she said.

Disneyland, 9/11 2006; BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Artist Banksy targets Disneyland

It is understood to have remained in place for 90 minutes before the ride was closed down and the figure removed.

End of quotes.

9/11 had brought this Warning Sign, which was one of the few works to sell well, as most are dismissed as fakes by the elusive Banksy. Banksy became a household name. After a few years of less interesting work, he's back on a roll.

But who is going to claim the crown as the Next Big Thing?

Pablo Wendel was an early contender in 2006, and amongst his other performances he dressed as a Terracotta Soldier and joined their ranks in the museum. Even the Chinese appreciated it enough not to press charges or revoke his student visa.

Most guerilla / graffiti artists were not that interesting, but JR is. He appeared on the Colbert Report recently, available to those in the US or via iTunes:

Like Banksy they both make political statements which make people think, and do it with a sense of humour - very few of his imitators manage this.

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