You probably recognize Banksy's art anytime you see a picture of it. But did you know that he used to go by the name Robin Banx? Did you know he has his own company to authenticate his works and protect his identity? Or that he got the idea to use stencils while hiding from the police? An article in the February issue of Smithsonian magazine brings you up to date on what is known about Banksy, including the multiple benefits he finds in remaining anonymous.
By 1999, he was headed to London. He was also beginning to retreat into anonymity. Evading the authorities was one explanation—Banksy “has issues with the cops.” But he also discovered that anonymity created its own invaluable buzz. As his street art appeared in cities across Britain, comparisons to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring began circulating.
Banksy’s first London exhibition, so to speak, took place in Rivington Street in 2001, when he and fellow street artists convened in a tunnel near a pub. “We hung up some decorators’ signs nicked off a building site,” he later wrote, “and painted the walls white wearing overalls. We got the artwork up in 25 minutes and held an opening party later that week with beers and some hip-hop pumping out of the back of a Transit van. About 500 people turned up to an opening which had cost almost nothing to set up.”