Graffiti: The Discussion on Whether It Is an Art or an Act of Vandalism

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Graffiti, is it art? Or Vandalism? In most countries painting property without the property owner's permission is considered vandalism, which is a punishable crime, yet at the same time, many cities are put on the map because of their street art. These cities, like Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Bethlehem (Palestine), often offering graffiti tours. Though I believe that things like tags and others are vandalism, there is a great deal of artwork that should not share that title. I feel like it is vandalism if it takes away from the building, but if it adds to the building its art. One of my personal favorite graffiti artists is England-based Banksy. His work originally appearing in the Bristol underground scene, a place in the UK known for turning out musicians and artists, he now covers streets, bridges, and walls of cities throughout the world with his political and social commentary art. Besides his art, the most interesting thing about him is that no one really knows who Banksy is. Though he has given statements about his art work under the name of Banksy, his identity is unverified, and this adds a certain sense of mystery to his work.

There are many theories circulating around the UK graffiti art world as to who Banksy's really is. The topic of his identity is so intriguing to the public that there was even an internet hoax circulated about him in October 2014. The Hoax claimed Banksy had been arrested for graffiti and his identity revealed but it was disproven quickly. Some believe that his identity is Robin Gunningham, a former pupil at the public Bristol Cathedral School based on a study of the locations where his art has been found. There were many articles with the title Banksy Unmasked came up in 2012 publishing this theory as truth, but there are still some that believe otherwise. Some of these other speculations include, that Banksy is a woman, or that Banksy is a team of seven artists. What really amazes me is how in this age of technology that someone would be able to keep their identity a secret for so long. So let me present my own theory. Not really about who he is, but why he has not been found yet. I don't think that Banksy had an internet of technology presents, due to some of his artwork commenting on how technology has changed us for the worse. Another one of my own theories is that one of the reasons that he doesn't want his name to overshadow his work. I believe that this decision to keep his true identity secret speaks to his character as an artist. Some artist let their name speak for their work, I believe that he wants his work to speak for itself.

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Banksy’s newest work Mobile Lovers, seen above is no exception. Here we see that satirical social commentary he is known for. The scene above depicts two people, a man and a woman embracing staring at the phone screens behind each other's back. With this piece, I believe he is commenting on our over-dependence on technology. By having the two lovers embracing but not looking at each other speaks to the argument that, as a people, it's become easier to connect to screens then it is to each there. Showing the lack of emotional connection and a strictly physical one. Showing while we may still physically love other people we love our phones on a deeper emotional level.

Like almost all of his work Mobile Lovers was made with the Stenciling technique. This is a form of graffiti in which the artist uses stencils made out of things like cardboard to create an image that is easily reproduced. This also is much faster than traditional graffiti, because most of the work is done when making the stencil. All the artist has to do once they find the location that they want is to put it then go over it with spray paint or roll-on. Banksy works mostly with spray paint. You can tell this by the slight fuzziness of his lines. As seen above, due to the stencil, his linework is very clean but if you look closely in the background of this work, around the edges of the people you can see this white and gray fuzziness that is a result of using spray paint.

Due to his exclusive use of this stenciling, many admirers of his work have compared it to that of Blek le Rat. Blek le Rat is known as the father of stencil graffiti and was one of the first french graffiti artist appearing in the 1980s. I don't really see this comparison. Other than the fact that they both use this stenciling technique their work does 't have too much in common. Rat’s work fetching people in why more outrageous positions, inspired by dance, as well as more animals than Banksy. Also while Blek le Rat has made some social and political commentary pieces, it is not the majority of his work. Banksy has said in a few interviews that he was inspired by 3D a graffiti artist and member of the music collective known as 'The Wild Bunch.” Like Banksy, 3D came from the Bristol underground scene. I understand this influence, a little more than the comparison to Blek le Rat because they came from the same graffiti scene. Though 3D’s work is less realistic, it offers social commentary and Banksy would have seen at of it if he had lived in Bristol which has been assumed.

The reason that I really appreciate Banksy art is that he doesn't do it to make a living, he does it for art's sake. As I said earlier Banksy does not only displays his art on publicly visible surfaces, and does not sell photos or reproduction. People have also been caught multiple times, trying to remove his work from buildings in order to sell it to the highest bidder. If you google it though you will find hundreds of listing claiming to sell prints and photos signed by him, and these are fakes. I like how he does not change his work. A lot of people can afford to or can afford the time to go to fancy art openings, so by having his work in publicly visible surfaces not only is he getting more exposure for his work is he also making art more available to the public. Though I have only seen photos of his work I hope that one day I will be able to see it in the flesh

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Graffiti: The Discussion on Whether It Is an Art or an Act of Vandalism [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Oct 20 [cited 2024 Jun 18]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/graffiti-the-discussion-on-whether-it-is-an-art-or-an-act-of-vandalism/
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