Banksy 'may abandon commercial art'

Banksy street art in New York Banksy's mural of a dog and fire hydrant appeared in New York on 3 October

Related Stories

Graffiti artist Banksy, who recently began a month-long unofficial residency painting the streets of New York, has suggested he may abandon art galleries.

"I started painting on the street because it was the only venue that would give me a show," the British artist told the Village Voice.

"Now I have to keep painting on the street to prove to myself it wasn't a cynical plan," he said.

"Commercial success is a mark of failure for a graffiti artist."

"We're not supposed to be embraced in that way."

In a rare interview with the New York publication conducted via email, the self-styled guerilla artist - whose identity remains a secret - appears to regret his commercial success, which has seen celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie paying millions of dollars for his artwork.

"Obviously people need to get paid - otherwise you'd only get vandalism made by part-timers and trust-fund kids," said Banksy, who is believed to be former public schoolboy Robin Gunningham.

"But it's complicated, it feels like as soon as you profit from an image you've put on the street, it magically transforms that piece into advertising."

"When graffiti isn't criminal, it loses most of its innocence."


The premise of his new project is to create a new piece of art on the streets of New York, for each day in October.

Entitled Better Out Than In, the public art show promised "elaborate graffiti, large scale street sculpture, video installations and substandard performance art".

"I know street art can feel increasingly like the marketing wing of an art career, so I wanted to make some art without the price tag attached."

"There is no gallery show or book or film. It's pointless," he said. "Which hopefully means something."

Banksy street art in New York Another piece in Brooklyn was defaced hours after being completed

However, in some quarters at least, his work appears to have been met with hostility. His first piece - entitled The Street Is In Play - which depicted two boys reaching for a spray can inside an official Graffiti is a Crime sign was defaced and painted over in less than 24 hours.

His second and third efforts were met with a similar fate: "I used to think other graffiti writers hated me because I used stencils, but they just hate me."

As promised, Banksy - who is living incognito in the US city - also unveiled videos and sculptures as part of the residency.

He claimed he had been focusing on sculpture following success with his Oscar-nominated documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop in 2010.

"I've been learning to make big sculptures out of clay - partly because it's a challenge and partly because after a year in an editing studio I wanted to do something standing up."

"It seems to me the best way to make money out of art is to not even try," said the artist, whose works have been physically cut from the concrete they were painted on and sold at auction all over the world.

"It doesn't take much to be a successful artist - all you need to do is dedicate your entire life to it."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Entertainment & Arts stories


Features & Analysis

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa

  • Woman in swimming pool Green stuff

    The element that makes a familiar smell when mixed with urine

  • People take part in an egg-cracking contest in the village of Mokrin, 120km (75 miles) north of Belgrade, Serbia on 20 April 2014In pictures

    Images from around the world as Christians mark Easter Sunday

  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health

From BBC Culture


  • An aerial shot shows the Olympic Stadium, which is closed for repair works on its roof, in Rio de Janeiro March 28, 2014.Extra Time Watch

    Will Rio be ready in time to host the Olympics in 2016? The IOC president gives his verdict

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.