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Creator / Banksy

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"A wall is a very big weapon. It's one of the nastiest things you can hit someone with."

Banksy is a famous artist, most well-known for his stencil-based graffiti. He was born in Bristol, England in the mid '70s. That's really all we know about him. While an alleged photograph of him unmasked has turned up, his real name remains unknown. Despite this he has become quite popular, sold paintings, put on gallery shows, in 2005 released a photo book of his work, Wall and Piece, and in 2010 made an Oscar-nominated documentary film, Exit Through the Gift Shop.

His work is often politically charged and rather funny. He's been compared to Andy Warhol for their similar sense of humor. You can see more of his work here.

"Exit Through The Trope Shop":

  • Anachronism Stew:
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison
    "Is graffiti art or vandalism? That word has a lot of negative connotations and it alienates people, so no, I don't like to use the word 'art' at all."
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: After one of his paintings broke records at an auction he auctioned off a piece called "I Can't Believe You Morons Buy This Shit."
  • Canis Latinicus: He's dabbled in it. For example, his pen name in "Caveman with Shopping Cart" is Banskymus Maximus.
  • Crappy Carnival: Dismaland, a scathing parody of Disneyland meant to be as strange, depressing and off-putting as possible.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All of his comments on this page, and many outside, are either sarcastic remarks or dry comments on something.
  • Eagleland: Invoked type 2 with a poster in Britain reading "Americans working overhead" along with silhouettes of some soldiers and a Black Hawk helicopter.
  • The Faceless: He was this for a long time until a photo of him was published (see below)
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: In 2018 he rigged a painting (Girl with Balloon) to be destroyed after being auctioned off, as a Take That! to people paying so much money for art; there was a shredder hidden in the bottom of the frame, which activated the moment the painting was sold. The shredder jammed partway through, and in its partially shredded state it was declared to be even more valuable. The buyer decided to go through with the sale and keep the piece, which has since been renamed Love Is in the Bin.
  • Gratuitous Nazis: Done to make a point in "The Banality of the Banality of Evil".
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: "GUARDED 24 HOURS (by a drowsy fat bloke reading pornography)"
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Only one photograph of him is known to exist.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: He claimed this is how he can get away with what he does in such a surveillance-centric culture as modern Britain. Dressing up in black and sneaking around in the dead of night is far more likely to get you noticed than standing there in broad daylight in a high-vis tabard.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Several European Union courts have dismissed his cases against people selling his art because maintaining copyright and trademarks would require that he not be anonymous and actually sell them himself.
  • Hypocritical Humor
    "We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves."
    • His list of people who should be shot: "Fascist thugs, religious fundamentalists, people who write lists telling you who should be shot."
  • Indy Ploy: Banksy intended to paint "Laugh now but one day we'll be in charge" in Spanish in animal enclosures in the Barcelona zoo. Upon realizing he lost the note he had the translation on, he just painted some tally-marks to make the animals look like bored prisoners.
  • Iwo Jima Pose: Has appeared in not one but two of his works.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Wall and Piece is presumably a reference to War and Peace.
  • Love It or Hate It: "People either love me or they hate me, or they don't really care."
  • Lover's Ledge: This painting is a good example. It is made doubly hilarious by the fact that it's painted on a wall of a sexual health clinic.
  • My Beloved Smother: "Lots of mothers will do anything for their children, except let them be themselves."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Done near the end of Exit Through the Gift Shop when Mr. Brainwash becomes an artist.
  • No Peripheral Vision: Pointed out in Wall and Piece. The fact that cops often have some sort of visor that exacerbates the human habit of not looking up is a huge boon to Banksy.
  • Not a Morning Person: Presumably, given his claim that "People who get up early in the morning cause war, death and famine."
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: His real name was said to be Robin Banksnote  or Robin Gunningham, but we can't know for certain.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Denounced. "Those who enjoy waving flags don't deserve to have one."
  • Reclusive Artist: Part of the reason he's so popular is the mystery around him; no name, no face, but his art work could be on your daily commute.
  • Referenced by...:
    • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark refers to an image at a crime scene as "A Banksy."
    • On Misfits, Nathan argues that scary graffiti declaring "I'm going to KILL you" is just "that Banksy prick."
    • On White Collar, Neal pretends to be a Banksy expy to sneak into a space for an investigation. He takes a moment to use his skills as a Master Forger to leave behind an original piece to sell the ruse.
    • He's also referenced in the Doctor Who episode "Rosa". When the Doctor starts to draw on a motel wall, Graham tells her to stop, saying "You're not Banksy!" The Doctor replies with a mysterious "Or am I?"
    • The My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Digital Series has a parody in the form of Flanksy, true identity Sunset Shimmer, using their graffiti skills to help Rarity design a new window display for an upcoming fashion show the boutique the latter works at is hosting.
    • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse a pedestrian remarks about the dimension-amalgamate streetlight to another pedestrian, "[He] think[s] it's a Banksy"
    • In The Good Place, Parody Sue Kamilah is rumored to be Banksy in-universe, but she refuses to confirm or deny this.
    • He has been referenced in the They Might Be Giants song "Celebration".
      I see that Banksy left a post-it note, for Anonymous, for Anonymous.
    • In Ted Lasso, Edwin Akufo introduces Sam to a middle-aged White man in a rumpled suit and says that it's actually Banksy.
    • In The Outlaws, the cast examine a piece of grafitti and debate whether or not it's a real Banksy before being ordered to paint it over.note 
    • Glass Onion: Miles Bron's has a glass pier that rises out of the sea, flanked with glass statues of hooded anarchists throwing an object. Lionel asks if it's a Banksy, prompting the ship's captain to call it a "Pisceofshite" which Lionel confuses for the name of another artist.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Putting up his painting in the Louvre without being caught.
    • Also, as noticed in the Hidden in Plain Sight entry above and the Weirdness Censor entry below, Banksy "hides" by wearing an extremely brightly-colored safety-vest.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: A rat that's three stories tall.
  • Rule-Abiding Rebel: invoked A poster stating "Graffiti Artists Must Report To Reception Before Starting Work".
  • Secret Identity: Banksy's real name is unknown to the public.
  • Self-Deprecation: Constantly, when asked to comment on a guess at his identity he said this:
    "I am unable to comment on who may or may not be Banksy, but anyone described as being 'good at drawing' doesn't sound like Banksy to me."
  • Shout-Out: Evokes iconic photographs and pop culture imagery in his work.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Banksy unwittingly painted over a long-preserved piece by graffiti artist King Robbo, which prompted him to come out of retirement with a grudge, vandalizing all and any Banksy pieces, until his unitimely death in 2014. Since his death, various fans of King Robbo have continued the war, vandalizing new Banksy pieces with "Team Robbo".
  • This Page Will Self-Destruct: He built a hidden shredder into the frame of one of his paintings from 2006, Girl with Balloon. It came up for auction in October 2018, with a winning bid of £1.04 million; as soon as the auction ended, the mechanism kicked on and started shredding the painting, with the sliced pieces hanging out of the bottom and part of it still inside, intact. Banksy later stated that the device was meant to shred the whole painting, but had malfunctioned. The buyer decided to go through with the sale and keep the painting, which has been renamed Love Is in the Bin.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Inserted into the otherwise unexceptional landscape painting "The Banality of the Banality of Evil".
  • Troll: A major component of his work, with the above incident with the £1.04 million painting being a prime example.
  • invoked True Art Is Angsty: Spoofed with "The Banality of the Banality of Evil", the title of which suggests that simply putting a Nazi officer into a painting will not automatically make it more deep.
  • Watershed: Possibly unintentional example. One of Banksy's stencils shows Queen Bessie shoving her cooch into a poor girl's face. Whenever he painted it, it would quickly be removed...with the exception of one installment on a shop shutter, meaning the painting can only be seen after 9:00 PM when the shop closes.
  • Weirdness Censor: Banksy, like most graffiti artists, uses this to his advantage. There are several photos of Banksy painting in the middle of the day with no one caring.
    "The easiest way to become invisible is to wear a day-glo vest."