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Friday, October 25, 2013

Banksy!


The British artist Banksy has stormed New York City with a month-long outdoor art show that he's titled "Better Out Than In." Each day this month, somewhere in the city, a new art piece appears, a stencil on the wall outside an Upper West Side shoe store, a pair of apocalyptic paintings hung under the High Line, an apparently crushed suitor on the gates of the Hustler triple X club, the Twin Towers with the indelible blooming flame an orange flower, a boy spray painting a burned-out South Bronx building while a suited butler holds a tray of spray paint cans. There are three-dimensional installations as well, like the slaughterhouse truck with the heads of stuffed animals wedged between its slats, called Sirens of the Lambs, which has been driving the streets since mid-month. And the paintings hung under the High Line include a bench for viewing. The determinedly anonymous artist even set up a booth next to Central Park one day, with an elderly man hawking signed Banksy originals—which sell for hundreds of thousands in museums and at auctions—for $60 a pop. Hardly anyone noticed the booth among a line of stalls all catering to tourists. Only three people made purchases and one woman bargained the seller down to $30.

The mayor condemns the art as defacing the city; the police are on the hunt for the elusive artist; some of the insanely valuable paintings have been painted over like so much graffiti, a broken-concrete sculpture of the Sphinx dismantled. Other pieces have been lovingly preserved: The shoe store piece now has a sheet of plexi-glass protecting it. All over the city, pedestrians stop and pose with the pieces, a few cover the smaller stencils with cardboard and try to charge for viewing, shoppers and diners run to storefronts pointing at the slaughterhouse truck going by and asking each other excitedly, "Isn't that...?" while others walk by entirely blasé, they've seen it all before. Me? I absolutely love the in-your-face democracy of it, art for everyone, and if you can't travel to view the pieces in person, well, the revolution will be Instagrammed (@banksynyc). You can also view the daily installations here.



9 comments:

  1. It is tremendous and amazing and baffling, too. I heard a woman on NPR and a building her family owns had been Banksied and they were having to do all sorts of things to protect the artwork and it was costing them time and money and yet, on the other hand...ART! A grace.
    This, to me, is like so much of life- what to spend our energies on protecting, what to let go. How to determine the value of anything in the moment?
    And isn't this the purpose of art? To make us think? Maybe. Certainly to make us talk.

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  2. I really like the concept of guerrilla art. And I think it's supposed to be temporary (kind of like a gorgeous wedding cake - ha!) which makes it all that more exciting.

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  3. I had a feeling this would happen. Some people just have to object to anything don't they?

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  4. I find it so interesting that in NYC there is this much drama over his art. Los Angeles is covered with it -- and others' magnificent work. I love it, too -- both for its democracy and outrage!

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  5. Loving street art, everything is on the scale of " temporary"- that in mind - also with humour and social observation, is what art ought to be. Here and gone - pay attention- be in the moment. Thank you for this post- makes me think which can be somewhat like putting tooth paste back in the tube considering my reluctance to use my tiny brain. Owning art is a problematic concept, I find. I do own art, bought it, and I love it but it is a lot like owning land- it's all on loan, isn't it.

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  6. I adore Banksy and his most genius weirdness. We found a Banksy on a wall full of violent gang graffiti by our house. Page photographed it every day until it was sprayed over. It was a man throwing out the peace sign.
    love,
    Rebecca

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  7. This is altogether too much fun and too brilliant to be condemned. I am fascinated by street art — all of it.

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  8. I really wish I was there to see it! A new piece every day is a LOT of output for Banksy -- he doesn't do things here in London with anywhere near that frequency. I'd especially love to see the stuffed-animal truck and watch people's reactions to it. I've seen videos on line, but that's not quite the same. Love the twin towers with the flower, too.

    Some of the NY graffiti writers destroy Banksy's pieces as quickly as they can -- that happened with his previous trip to the city as well, back in 2009 or so. I think there's a feeling that he's an interloper and a sell-out.

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  9. Silly Mayor, art is for everyone. Yay Banksy!

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