Banksy: how did street art become an art form in its own right?

Published on : 15 April 20213 min reading time
From Mexico to Moscow, then from Philadelphia to New York, the walls have seen a parade of rebellious artists-painters. In this period when street art is beginning to be integrated into galleries, this subversive discipline is becoming a full-fledged art form, notably thanks to the contribution of the enigmatic Banksy.   

The history of street-art

In the 1900s, the walls of some cities were already home to figures and messages, often political. But the birth of street art as we know it today took place in the United States in the 1960s when Cornbread and Cool Earl created “Graffiti Writing”. A figurative art that will quickly seduce and spread to other cities like New York from 1960 to 1970. As the works are located in public places, the propagation is done quite naturally that the movement gains Europe and other cities of the world. France will be particularly marked by the urban art of Blek Le Rat and Jérôme Mesnager in the 80s. This decade will also see many artists handling with talent graffiti, stencil, stick art, installations, tape art, and other forms of street art. Among the most notable and famous is the Bristol-based artist Banksy, who emerged in the early 1990s. Street art and Banksy have forever changed the relationship between the public, urban art and marketing. 

The artistic value of street art

Street art has not always been calculated. This may seem normal for a discipline that relies on immediacy and the forbidden to spread a message without the consent of the authorities. Street-art artists display their work in public places, without anyone having asked to see them. And this democratizes art in general, making it more accessible, and free to people who do not necessarily frequent galleries and museums. And despite this free access, the artistic value of its works is indisputable, whether from the aesthetic point of view or in the ideas they convey. And on this last point, street-art and Banksy more particularly, sends a strong message, sometimes anarchist, sometimes anti-system, sometimes anti-capitalist and anti-militarist.

An art in its own right

Graffiti, stencils and other forms of street art often disappear since they are not considered artistic works, but vandalism due to their illegality. This has changed since February 2020. The American justice finally decided in favor of these street artworks and decided that from now on, it is an art in its own right. It is therefore no longer allowed to demolish murals on the walls, to remove works from a location as some have done with street-art stencils and Banksy. From now on, urban art enjoys the same recognition as galleries and collectors.

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