Sunday, May 1, 2011


Part XI of a series about the possibility of a rebirth of Social Realism in the Post Postmodern (Popomo) / Metamodern

Banksy, perhaps Robin Cunningham, born in Bristol, England July 28, 1973, is a not exclusively graffiti artist, who uses his often-stenciled street art to make satirical social and political commentary. There are several photographs that are purported to be of Banksy, though no actual proof exists that these are indeed of Banksy. Banksy’s artwork spans two decades, beginning in Bristol in 1992, and includes the documentary film, Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) which was nominated in January of this year for the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Subversive in style, his artwork often appears on site during the night - graffiti that vandalizes public space according to his critics who include the organization “keep Britain Tidy,” and the Guardian Newspaper through columnist, Charlie Brooker - makes it necessary to keep his identity a closely held secret (sort of). However, Banksy also makes sculpture and standard painted art, even film when necessary to get his subversive message across.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Among Banksy’s art themes - anti-war, anti-authoritarianism, anti-capitalist, and existentialism, in which he uses children, old people, and rats as illustrative elements - many if not most of the artwork I saw can be categorized as social realism. Often witty aphorisms are part of his street art. Interestingly, after spending so much time looking at and thinking about Banksy’s artwork, I decided that it necessitates a new category that would oscillate between and among social realist art with politically subversive art and street art, painting, film and remotely, assemblage/sculpture. And, perhaps art that does all those things is one piece of this Popomo or Metamodernist period of the early Twenty-first Century.

The reader should “google” Banksy if he/she wishes to look more deeply into this prolific artist’s work. Banksy’s own Website has the most complete showing of his artwork, but no information about the artist’s background, his thought process or philosophy. There’s a plethora of other Websites about him, though the most informative and up to date is the Wikipedia entry.

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