Tag Archives: banksy

How High-Low Can You Go? New Banksy Mural in London Rips Basquiat for Basquiat’s Sake

There’s a new Banksy in London!   Okay, okay, okay — calm down! We know how exciting this must be for you. Us, too! But let’s take a moment and catch our breath, ’cause this is no ordinary new piece of street art from the world’s most mysterious artist.

The latest Banksy is ripping off one of the most famous and original popular post-modern artists to emerge from New York City in the heady 1980s.

You know the ’80s, right? It’s that era when people did lots of coke and wore lots of pastel-colored clothing in America, say, like a a pink linen blazer with the sleeves rolled up past the elbow (’cause in the ’80s they figured out that wearing your blazer that way made it all the easier for you to drive your convertible white Ferrari Mondial around the broad and desolate mean streets of Miami at midnight with a moody expression on your face).

Anyways, that important ’80s artist was the late, great Basquiat, as in Jean-Michel Basquiat. In the 1990s, Hollywood produced a biopic about him with Jeffrey Wright, Dennis Hopper, and David Bowie (who played artist Andy Warhol in the film).

So Banksy is ripping off Basquiat for his latest work. Well, “rip off” is a harsh term. Did we really say that? Kind of, maybe, not really. We meant “riffs” off. (Or is it “riff on”?). Or rather what we meant was Banksy is giving “a nod” to Basquiat.

Let’s clarify. Banksy has created an original Banksy artwork that depicts two police officers in his usual style of monochromatic black and gray graffiti-painted stencils.

The police are patting down and writing a citation for a very authentically-rendered impressionistic black figure painted in a style that is mind-blowingly like a Basquiat painting.

Nearby is a painting of a very Basquiat-esque dog growling, as well as a mash-up of a very Keith Haring-esque (as in Keith Haring, another late, great ’80s NYC art star) and a very Basquiat-esque human figure leaping into the air.

Is Banksy ripping off Basquiat (or Haring for that matter)? No, Unequivocally, “no!” we say.

The artwork is an homage and a site-specific work referencing a new massive exhibition of Basquiat’s work at the Barbican Centre in London. The show is awesomely titled “Boom for Real.”

Banksy’s artwork here is fucking brilliant. It’s a collision of high-brow and low-brow in a way that makes so much sense and says so much.

Basquiat, a street artist who became a legit art star and darling of the art world, if he were alive today and walking down the streets of central London might not be able to go see his own exhibition at major museum without being stopped by police or racially profiled as suspicious. There’s some bitter irony here.

Go see it while it lasts or before the neighborhood becomes so much more expensive that you’ll need to take out a mortgage to buy a flat-white coffee.

 

Here Comes the Neigborhood: Mural of Basquiat Ups Real Estate Values in Hip Gentrifying Hood

There’s a pattern of tell-tale signs that indicate that a once-undesireable neighborhood is undergoing gentrification. One of these signs is the changing nature of street art, and, more tellingly, the arrival of public art.

Although street art is kind of constant throughout the gentrification process, it’s usually in abundance in the neighborhood pre-gentrification and continues to pop up more frequently and blossom as the process unfolds. What’s different over time is the type of street art and its content and how it changes as the neighborhood gentrifies.

As the process plays out and rents and condos become more expensive, the street art becomes “neater,” bigger, less controversial, broader in appeal, and more referential of the established traditional post-modern and contemporary art canon.

More importantly, the street art you see starts to be commissioned rather than illicit. Galleries pop up. Art “events” appear. There’s public art. There are bigger and bigger murals. The “street art” at this stage is increasingly really officially developer-approved mural work by established street art figures and established non-street artists instead of “guerilla” artworks painted in the dark of night. 

The mural pictured here in the Los Angeles Arts District depicting the late, great artist Jean-Michel Basquiat seems to fall somewhere in between the official and unofficial, a signpost somewhere in the middle of the gentrification-process spectrum. In and of itself, it is not significantly remarkable. In the context of the streets, it’s awesome, it’s cool, and will add to the area’s cachet for would be home buyers and investors who love it and want to tap into the “cool” of the Arts District.

The artwork is adding value. Rents will go up — ARE going up — and fast!  (In fact, since you started reading this, the average monthly listing price on a 400 square-foot studio apartment in the area has probably increased by $2,416.39, to the penny.)

The painting is by the very talented artist Alex Ali Gonzalez, and it’s self-referential for the art world and also a kind of visual, symbolic creative cue, an homage to an important beloved artist and what that artist represents — Basquiat started out by creating graffiti and street art in what at the time were the derelict streets of downtown Manhattan, an area of New York City that is now completely gentrified and unaffordable for most people.

Basquiat symbolizes something for both the struggling young artist being priced out of the Arts District and to the property developer turning a textile warehouse or widget factory into multi-million dollar condos affordable by only the wealthy, who it has been observed are often people who are not professionally creative and often lack imagination in a way that is inversely proportional to their wealth.

Neighborhoods pass through phases of gentrification, from pre- and “pioneer” phases through to “early hipster,” “late hipster” and “second,” “third,” “fourth” waves, etc., and finally “establishment” phase. (You’ll know the last phase because hipsters are no longer moving to the neighborhood and there’s at least one condo with its own private elevator.)

The Arts District of Los Angeles, which is really the industrial area that’s psychologically an extension of Downtown LA (DTLA) is not at the establishment phase of gentrification, but it’s very close, or rather at least pockets of it are really close. Other areas, not so much. It’s a vast area that could easily be divided up in to two or three distinct neighborhoods.

But there’s more and more large-to-epic scale commissioned street art. Look for more images of the Basquiats and Warhols and others of the artworld Pantheon in the future and fewer “Kook Streets” and “Wrdsmths” and “Banksys” (although, given the monetary and cultural value of a Banksy artwork at this point, it would actually be a welcome addition even on an expensive DTLA condo, maybe it would be painted inside that private elevator.) 

Vice Magazine Asks the Question About Banksy We’ve All Wanted to Ask …

Vice Magazine reports on the latest artwork (below) by Banksy, which was put on a wall in the English seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea and then quickly removed by local government. The town leaders didn’t realize they were destroying a piece of street art potentially worth a significant fortune. The artwork is a piece of political commentary satirizing the anti-migrant sentiment in some parts of the U.K., notably Clacton, an election district represented by a politician campaigning on restricting immigration. The Banksy artwork was misinterpreted as a racist message and deemed offensive, Thus it being scrubbed. And thus the outrage that a Banksy artwork has been destroyed. Amid this controversy, Vice asks an interesting question: Why is it that Banksy’s street art is exempt from vandalism laws while that of other, not-famous street artists is not. (Hint: It’s the money.) More pix on the Banksy website.

banksy-clacton-on-seaImage from via www.banksy.co.uk

Street Art … Fresh Artwork by Diana Garcia and Gabriel Specter at Woodward Gallery Project Space

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This fresh new artwork by artists Diana Garcia and Gabriel Specter at the Woodward Gallery’s Project Space (in front of the Ghost space) on Eldridge Street on New York’s Lower East Side. The work is on view through February 14, 2014. The wall is yet another space dedicated to curated street art, a trend that will keep growing and we love to see.

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In New York … The Postcard-Worthy Interior of Pulino’s

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Pulino’s on the Bowery is our downtown go-to weekend spot for Italian-style brunches in New York City. The food and atmosphere are great. And its location at the corner of Bowery and Houston streets means it’s in a prime spot for taking a break during our usual weekly art circuit and close to the action. The Deitch Wall is across the street. The New Museum is a block away, as is Rag & Bone, Banksy’s recent “Grim Reaper” installation, and a few other often-changing commissioned street art spaces. A dozen or so of the nearly 100 galleries now in the Lower East Side are two or three minutes away on foot. Like so many restaurants these days, Pulinos delivers its check to your table with a postcard, which we love.

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Gandalf x James Gandolfini = “Gandalfini” by Hanksy

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One of the most recent punny wheat-paste street art pieces by Hanksy (not Banksy) is this mash-up of illustrated depictions of late actor James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) and the Lord of the Rings character Gandlaf in New York’s Lower East Side. Hence the title of this street artwork: “Gandalfini.” (Get it? Of course, you did, as we knew you would.) The artwork can be found on Orchard Street, just south of Grand Street, if the art-fashion “South of Delancey” area of the Lower East Side.

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On the Scene … The Mini-Mob at Day 24 of Banksy in NYC

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We just got back from a viewing of the most recent street art by British street artist Banksy as part of his “Better Out Than In” October residency in New York City. Banksy’s latest work was put up earlier today on a roller shutter covering the entrance to Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club & Lounge, a strip club in the NYC neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, on Manhattan’s west side. The street artwork is titled “Waiting in Vain at the Door of the Club.”

Today marks Banksy’s 24th Day in NYC, where he has released a new artwork every day of the month except for Wednesday October 23rd, when it was reported on his website Banksyny.com that that day’s street art event had been cancelled “due to police activity.”

There was a bit of a circus and mini-mob scene at the site of the strip club street art piece as dozens upon dozens of people angled themselves in a scrum of bodies and iPhones to get a view of the stencil street art piece and snap photos. A trio of bouncers stood by protecting the artwork (and/or the club property), and it wasn’t clear if they were affiliated with the club, the artist or both. At one point, one of the bouncers got really surly with a viewer who was clearly trying to overstep the bounds to get a close-up photo. Meanwhile a reporter and his crew shot a video report nearby. And down the block, a guy was selling what seemed like unofficial Banksy merchandise (Banksy magnets) out of a garage.

The location of this Banksy street art is the northeast corner of W. 51st Street and West Side Highway (a.k.a., 12th Avenue).

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Video of Art Critic’s Impromptu Talk at Banksy’s UWS Painting

This is the kind of wonderful New York City moment we cherish. New York Magazine’s art critic Jerry Saltz offers and impromptu art talk about Banksy’s recent street art piece on New York City’s Upper West Side.

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Revisiting Banksy’s 9/11 Street Art …

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We revisited the site of the Banksy 9/11 street art stencil in TriBeCa, in New York City, this past weekend. There was again a crowd of between a half-dozen and a dozen people viewing the artwork and — yet again — another argument was unfolding between a visitor and a local resident.

Since our first visit the day Banksy put up the stencil artwork, a lot of other graffiti has gone up nearby and there have been attempts to deface the work. The artwork itself is a silhouette of the lower Manhattan skyline including a depiction of the iconic Twin Towers and one of the explosion fireballs on the building, represented by strategic placement of a fiery orange flower on one of the towers.

Somebody had installed a plexiglass cover over Banksy’s work to protect it from vandalism (ironic, right?), and residents in the apartment building across the narrow street were keeping a watchful, protective eye on the work. One of the residents admonished a viewer who was trying to remove the plexiglass and a heated argument between them ensued. The viewer argued that the plexiglass should be removed so that people can appreciate an unobstructed view of the work and see it as it was intended. The resident argued it should be protected and noted that already several people had tried to smash the cover by throwing bricks at it, hence the cracked plexiglass. Eventually the visitor walked off muttering that Banksy’s artwork “is just graffiti.”

Both people had a point. Their arguments underscore just how much of all of this is subject to debate given the circumstances and that the artwork is at once vandalism, illegal, ephemeral and of artistic, cultural significance.

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Breaking in NYC … Banksy’s “Mobile Garden” Truck in Greenwich Village Tonight …

We just caught up with the first Banksy truck, the one with the “mobile” garden” (a diorama-like nature scene with waterfall, rainbows, etc.) installed in the back of the vehicle, parked at the comer of Bleecker and Thompson streets in New York’s Greenwich Village. The mobile garden truck rolled out on October 5th, Day 5 of Banksy’s month-long New York City street-art show “Better In Than Out.” More pix to follow shortly. Stay tuned.

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On the Scene … Banksy’s 9/11 Street Art in TriBeCa NYC

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As part of his month-long October residency and “Better In Than Out” art show in New York City, Banksy on Tuesday put up this stencil street art piece in TriBeCa depicting lower Manhattan’s pre-9/11 skyline with the Twin Towers in silhouette. The artwork is at the base of a building at the corner Jay and Staple streets and literally a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site. Visitors subsequently turned the sidewalk next to the street art into a mini shrine with candles, flowers and a handwritten note (see pix below). When we went to view the artwork late Tuesday night, a small crowd had gathered at the site and a heated argument was breaking out between a man making what seemed like spurious claims to be the building’s owner and a young woman holding a spray-paint can who said she wanted to write the words “Inside Job” on the wall nearby.

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On the Scene … Hanksy’s “Col-Bear” at the Colbert Report Studios …

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Earlier this week on an episode of the eponymous Colbert Report, faux-news anchor Stephen Colbert extended a backhanded invitation to British street artist Banksy to put up street art on the wall of the New York studios where the show is taped. Banksy is in NYC for a month-long street art exhibition in which he is revealing a new piece of artwork somewhere in the city each day of October.

While Banksy didn’t respond with fresh street artwork at the W. 54th Street studio, New York street artist Hanksy did, putting up a wheat-paste image of a grizzly bear with Colbert’s face. The image is another one of Hanksy’s signature visual puns involving celebrities likenesses. Hanksy’s name itself is a play on the name Banksy.

In this case, the “Col-Bear” is a play on the pronunciation of Colbert. (It’s also apt insofar as Colbert’s on-screen persona is famous for hating bears.) The Col-Bear is sporting a necklace with an “I Heart JS” inscription, which is a reference to Jon Stewart. We caught sight of the Col-Bear Thursday afternoon on while running an errand (our project offices are nearby), and wondered if Colbert would mention Hanksy’s work on this show. Sure enough, he did.

Nearby, on the same, wall somebody has spray-painted “Sorry I’m not Banksy.” (See below.)

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Banksy in NYC … Interactive Map of Banksy Street Art Locations

If you’re looking for each of the locations of Banksy’s New York October street exhibition (“Better in Than Out”), the Google Map below will help you hunt down the street art. It includes daily updates of the location of the roving Banksy truck.


View Banksy: Better Out Than In in a larger map

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Banksy in New York … The “Rebel Rocket Attack” Video is Brilliant …


In a Banksynyc.com post and YouTube video titled “Rebel Rocket Attack,”Banksy has shown that his best work of his current New York “Better In Than Out” street-art exhibition project may not be on the streets at all, but online and in video. The short video clip is a beguiling, charged and clever mash-up of footage and media imagery. This is hands-down one of Banksy best works to date. Absolutely brilliant.

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Hanksy’s “Will Ferrell Cat” Street Art Response to Banksy …

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The street artist Hanksy strikes again in the Lower East Side of New York City. This time with a wheat-paste image of a pink-and-purple cat whose face is that of fictional news anchor Ron Burgundy as portrayed by actor Will Ferrell in the film “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” The location of this street art piece is perhaps not an accident. Hanksy often puts up work in the art-fashion “Below Delancey” neighborhood of New York’s  Lower East Side, the area south of Delancey Street that has become a hub for art and fashion creators. This artwork continues that pattern, but with a twist: This “Will Ferrell Cat” is at 17 Allen Street and directly across the street from where the British artist Banksy (from whose name Hanksy is partly derived) put up the first of his stencil street artworks last week for his month-long show in New York. So is this Hanksy work a kind of response? (BTW, Hanksy has been reviewing Banky’s October “Better In Than Out” street art show on Gothamist.

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On the Scene at Banksy’s “Better In Than Out” in NYC …

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This is the first Banksy piece of the British street art superstar’s month-long October residency in New York, where he has been putting up or releasing a new piece of artwork everyday as part of his “Better In Than Out” street exhibition. The artwork is a stencil  painting depicting two life-size old-school NYC paper boys reaching for a spray-paint can next to a sign prohibiting graffiti. Within 24 hours of going up, Banksy’s artwork itself was vandalized, then updated,  then painted over and re-tagged and partly recovered. It can be found on the back of a tenement building at Allen Street just north of Canal Street on the East side of the block, approximately behind where the Fat Radish restaurant is in the Lower East Side. There’s a hilarious, cheeky audio piece that viewers can listen to via a toll-free phone number (see below), which is stenciled on a wall near the artwork. The original work can be seen along with the audio on the Banksynyc.com website. Across the street, at 17 Allen Street, the NY street artist Hanksy has put up his “Will Ferrell Cat” wheat-paste street art.

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Hanksy’s “Bald Eagle” Mashup with Bryan Cranston

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This recent work by Hanksy (a portmanteau of Banksy x Hanks, as in Tom Hanks) on Orchard Street in New York’s Lower East Side is a mash-up of graphics and illustration featuring a bald eagle with the head of actor Bryan Cranston, the star of the American television series “Breaking Bad.”

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