Another British artist comes to mind when contemplating Banksy, William Hogarth who lived to mock the Bourgeoisie in 18th-Century, Industrial England. Hogarth was a thoroughly modern artist of the time, choosing to satirize subjects and topics ranging from- politics, manners, social elitism, crime, marriage, hypocrisy, political corruption, patriotism, and sexuality– themes one can easily relate to, to this day and are also evident in Banksy's anthology.
During the Age of Enlightenment (18th-Century), the charm of the ordinary came to replace the preference for the artifice and frivolities favored in Rococo motifs. The aristocratic culture which the Rococo feted was challenged and along with huge political, social and economic reforms occurring at the time, so too was the art being turned on it's head. Reason & common sense were the new doctrine's of progress and the promotion of scientific questioning was encouraging humankind to think logically. The feudal system was out and the people were finding their voice.
Marriage a-la-Mode: The Tête-à-Tête
And so here we find ourselves in the Post-Industrial 21st-Century and the Technological Revolution is upon us. Just as Gutenberg's printing press made the Bible (among other books) more accessible, so too has the computer, internet and digital photography changed our lives forever. Information is now available en masse at the tips of our fingers, and communication has sped up light years. Most recently, the world watched as ordinary Tunisian & Egyptian citizens held revolts against their despots, ultimately deposing their autocracies using blogs , Facebook, Twitter, WikiLeaks documents, YouTube and other forms of digital media, both to report as well as to organize themselves.
Caricatures or caricaturas were first documented during the Italian Renaissance in studies by Leonardo da Vinci on "the ideal type of deformity", the grotesque, which he used to better understand the concept of ideal beauty and proportion. Over time the principles of form established in part by da Vinci had become so ingrained into the method of portraiture that artists like Agostino Carracci rebelled against them. Intended to be lighthearted satires, their caricaturas were, in essence, "counter-art". Even Martin Luther used caricatures as propoganda during the Protestant Reformation against the Catholic Church. Woodcutting and metal engraving had become popular trades and graphic art was born. This allowed for a number of prints ridiculing the hypocrisies of the Catholic Church to be more accessible, especially to the illiterate.
|Leonardo Da Vinci Grotesque Profile (1485-90)|
|Agostino Carracci (|
Rabbatin de Griffi and his wife Spilla Pomina
This leads us back to Banksy. With the dire state of the Newspaper and magazine industries, the political cartoons familiar habitat, so too is the art-form in a crisis of it's own. In the most ironic fashion, Banksy has transformed the craft and merged it with graffiti art to produce a new form of visual protest; none of which would be possible to view in large circulation without the aid of the digital camera, a quick upload onto the computer and of course your effort. His sharp, witty and provocative voice resonates upon a garage door, a water tower, a sidewalk, and speaks to millions who may never reach the location before city officials delete it forever. The brilliance of engaging an audience to become co-conspirators is genius. Although the work is two dimensional it is also a sculptural piece in many ways in view of the objects, building walls, lamp posts etc. on which he paints are cleverly selected and ingeniously incorporated into the mural, the environment plays a role.
Much ado has been made about the fact that he keeps his identity shrouded in mystery. Even as he is up for an Academy Award nomination for his fabulous documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop he has chosen to conceal himself. What a refreshing choice in this day-and-age of every Tom, Dick & Harry grappling for fame in the basest of manner. If in fact "he" is rather a collective as the conspiracy theorists have begun to whisper, what does it matter? It isn't about him, it's rather about what he, or she, or they are thinking and how able they are to interpret that communication with us through this medium.
Following the Pied Piper
Banksy has currently announced his presence in Los Angeles with a number of murals throughout the sprawling city, from South Central to Santa Monica which has everyone's tongues wagging and eagerly awaiting the next. In a campaign for an Oscar we've never seen the likes of before, it's bound to be an exciting lead-up to Sunday. I've collected the pictures and addresses of what I could find and will be updating this as I learn of more.
|Sunset Blvd., across from the Director's Guild of America offices|
(this billboard has already been removed & replaced sans lascivious Mickey)
|Worker removing Banksy billboard|
|YMCA Beverly Hills|
|Crayola Shooter (reference to the young Burmese soldiers)|
Westwood, on Urban Outfitter's wall
Washington Boulevard at Compton Ave., just East of the 110 Fwy & South of the 10 Fwy
Abbot Kinney & California
|Spaulding & Melrose Ave.|
|La Brea & San Vicente (Not technically a Banksy, has a Mr. Brainwash signature by base)|
Directions--If you're taking the 10 west it turns into the pch. It will be on the right side across from the first state beach parking lot. I think it's the Santa Monica state beach. Had to illegally park cause the beach was closed but in the day that will be the best place to park and walk over.
Satellite view of Location
East 1st & Soto streets in Boyle Heights, East L.A.
Soto and 1st street in the Boyle Heights area of East Los.
Soto and 1st street in the Boyle Heights area of East Los.
|The Caution Fun piece has since been stolen, apparently in broad daylight.|
9th & Broadway, Downtown