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Banksy’s New York Beat

All pictures painted inside, in the studio, will never be as good as those done outside.–Paul Cezanne

People ask why I want to have an exhibition in the streets, but have you been to an art gallery recently? They’re full.–Banksy

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Banksy, the British multimedia street artist and merry prankster of social commentary, has taken up residence in the boroughs of New York with his current project, Better Out Than In. All of these artwork interventions, which began on October 1st, and continue to roll out daily, are chronicled online with photographs, videos and audioguides. (If you see any of these works, be sure to share on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #banksyny). Each day in October, Banksy has produced a different street art commentary. His most recent on October 24th, “Waiting in Vain,” appeared on the metal roll-down gate of the infamous Hustler Club, with characteristic multilayered nuance of commentary. Other artworks in the series have taken on the fast food industry, poverty, the art world, the Occupy Movement, Catholicism and graffiti art. He even hired an elderly man to sell original Banksy artworks in Central Park for $60 each.

With humor and irony as guiding forces in all of the artworks, heavy-handed interpretations will no doubt be mocked by the artist.

His October 11th project “Sirens of the Lambs” featured a truck full of squeaking stuffed animals which traveled through the meatpacking district, and citywide for the following two weeks.
(The video documenting it already has over 3.5 million views…)

In synchronicity with recent fast food worker protests, a fibreglass replica of Ronald McDonald having his shoes shined by a real live boy appeared on October 16th. The sculpture  visited sidewalks outside a different McDonalds during lunchtime for the following week.

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  1. natashia t

    Although Banksy is credited with being a changemaker, graffiti artists discredit him as one. The common reason is because he’s stenciling, not freestyling. Personally, I think they are missing the point, the larger picture in the scheme of things. Why pick on a micro level and not macro?

    That aside, during the month long residency, some New Yorkers can’t wait for him to go home. For another reason. Here’s an excerp from Yahoo’s article, ‘Jerk or Genius?’

    “The turning point for many was an essay he wrote criticizing the building replacing the World Trade Center. Banksy called the new design “vanilla … something they would build in Canada,” and added, “It so clearly proclaims the terrorists won.” He offered the essay to The New York Times. The paper wouldn’t print it, so he posted it on his website.

    “The terrorists won” comment upset many New Yorkers, including Brian Major, 51, of Brooklyn. “Enough!” Major said. “Who is this guy? Everybody’s got a right to an opinion but what gives him any kind of credibility in New York? Shut up, Banksy! Go home!”‘

    To his credit, Banksy is one who always has a good grasp of human psychology. As a final salvo, simultaneously serious and self-mocking, Banksy designed his name in helium filled bubble letters by the road — “an homage … to the most prevalent form of graffiti in the city that invented it for the modern era. Or it’s another Banksy piece that’s full of hot air.”


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