The Art of Reflecting Society, Courtesy of Banksy

“By manipulating images and the public persona of the artist he was able to throw back in our faces the contradictions and superficialities of contemporary art and culture.”

Though this quote is describing Andy Warhol in the book 1000 Paintings of Genius on Andy Warhol, it captures the overall messaging of pop-culture expressionism.

Since the early 90’s, the English artist known only as “Banksy” has left his mark around the world with his provocative reflections of modern culture. His satirical social themes, elusive nature, and guerrilla pop-ups have helped propel him into one of the most influential street artists, one who has helped bring the scene mainstream.

Though much of his work appears on buildings and structures throughout the world, he also stages experiential events such as his mobile “Silence of the Lambs” truck and the brilliantly timed destruction of a painting that began shredding itself the very moment Sotheby’s dropped the gavel on its $1.4m auction sale. 

In 2017, Banksy opened the Walled Off Hotel, a boutique hotel located in right on the Israeli West Bank barrier in Bethlehem, the controversial wall separating Palestine and Israeli territories. The hotel, which remains open today, provides hospitality, a jazz/piano bar, a museum, an art gallery, and a protest all in one. Featured decor includes sculptures surrounded by plumes of “tear gas”, bullet-ridden water tanks, beds salvaged from abandoned army barracks, murals depicting Israeli and Palestinian troops having pillow fights, and direct views of the the infamous concrete slab wall. Visit the walledoffhotel.com to learn more.

Our selects below include some of Banksy’s other socially inspired expressions. For more info visit banksy.co.uk.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF BANKSY, SOTHEBY’S, AND PHILLIPS.

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