Banksy is known worldwide for being an elusive, thought-provoking graffiti artist whose work is “anti-establishment” and critiques the ails of modern society. His work has sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars since the early 2000s, and can be recognized by nearly everyone. Personally, I don’t believe he should be hailed as a creative genius; I think his work skirts past deeper analysis of important political and social issues by touching on them with edgy, quirky, and superficial images that appropriate pop culture and add nothing of significance. Brutally put, I think his work is mediocre and he’s a sellout.
The artist, whose real persona has never been quite identified, claims to be counter culture and rail against capitalism, consumerism, and the downfall of society. I won’t talk about how his artwork visually isn’t that impressive, but that the nature of his popularity contradicts his whole ideology. A Reddit user in Auckland detailed their underwhelming experience at a Bansky exhibition, saying that besides the rather repetitive work, the exhibition was sponsored by a number of large corporations, entailed a $35 entrance fee, and ended through the gift shop, essentially going against every anti-capitalist, satirical theme that Banksy’s work is supposed to address.
For example, his 2015 project Dismaland is supposed to be a decrepit, depressing version of Disneyland, featuring distorted sculptures and grimy floors. Instead, it’s just sad in general, and doesn’t say anything new. He also sold some of the pieces in an auction, where the BBC reports that the collection garnered almost $15,000. Moreover, he broke headlines when his Girl With Balloon painting shredded itself after being sold, but could now be worth even more to art collectors. Sure it was amusing for a second, but is it really significant?
Clearly the fame has gotten to Banksy’s head, and his work is outdated. That’s not to say that none of his work has value, as some of it is actually interesting and thoughtful. But I’m not sure how long he’ll stay relevant…