When a vandal sneaks his or her vicious activity into a museum or art space, we are saddened. A painting may have its surface damaged, or a statue may be chipped or even outright broken. When this happens to an older piece of art it is especially upsetting — it’s not as though we can bring back Leonardo Da Vinci back to properly restore The Last Supper and so other people have to step in when it sustains considerable damage as it did during the second World War.

When the artist is living it is still upsetting — the artist can only create that which inspiration dictates and it is quite improbable that an artist can recapture the same sentiment he or she had when the art was originally created a second time. It is silly to speculate how it would be possible to recreate original art and so we have to know that any attempt to recreate would just be a hollow copy of the original artwork by the artist, original or otherwise.

It is worth considering the quandary of what to think when the artwork itself was uninvited — as is the case with the Banksy artwork that was spray painted on the side of a building not too far from where I now work in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn. Here is the painting as it was in May of 2010. Note that it is a classic Banksy piece of work — social commentary and nice art at the same time.

Here is the painting as it is more recently.

When I pass by it every morning, it seems to look even worse than it does in this latter image. While it gets me down that the artwork was defaced in such an unpleasant manner, what can we expect to happen to a piece of artwork that was created on a privately owned building and, naturally, without the permission of the owner of the building.

What are we to think of the graffiti artist who spray painted over the spray painting that was already there? Is it possible that it was thought that, considering that it was “just” graffiti, adding graffiti to graffiti wouldn’t make much of a difference? Does graffiti plus graffiti ever equal art?

Posted by Gordon Davidescu

Born in Perth Amboy, Gordon Davidescu lives in Queens with his wife, toddler son and bears. He loves reading a good book whether it is cloth and paper or digitally.

13 Comments

  1. Well, Gordon, I think it’s all sort of appropriately circular in a way. “Graffiti is as graffiti does.” Banksy made his reputation defacing public buildings with his art and then he disappears. The local taggers take back their territory by obliterating the original tags left by Banksy with their own graffiti. I would think Banksy would be fine with his work getting re-worked because it all fits into his meme stream.

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    1. I would love to hear Banksy’s thought on it, David — but I would bet you’re right!

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      1. Me too. Let’s hope he pipes up — or, better yet, shows up and makes something new out of the Graffiti over his Graffiti!

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  2. Graff artists aren’t digging “Banksy”. Covering his pieces(has become a worldwide sport). It’s absolutely intentional and their way of verbalizing disdain…

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    1. Interesting, Jane — thanks for the information on that! Never would have thought it was that spiteful…

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  3. Blanksy’s graffiti work is in fact a form of art. Even if you are the property owner you have to question the removal of the work. In a world of concrete and block this presents color, life and stimulates the mind. However what is covering it does not and is nothing more than tagging in protest of what Blanksy is about.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Adam. Banksy definitely is more artistic than the scribbles that cover what he does.

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  4. Have hear af a Frenchman called Blek Le Rat. He was Doing Stencil art some 25 years ago. Banksy is currently age 38, so he would have been about age 13 and attending his private school that he wealthy parent wear paying £9500 a year for him to attend when Blek was producing the Street art with which Backsy is now plagiarising and getting rich from. Hence the anonymity (he’s not from the street). The moneyed art world have made him their darling and fund managers are pay $million for works. He appeals to the bougoise because they recognise him as one of the own, who has managed to appropriate something “real” from the “street”, but Real taggers don’t feel him.

    Any Street artist worth is salt will tell you that Bankskeys body of Work are lil for like copies of every bit od wall art produced by Blek in terms of method (Stencil) and subject matter ( social and political commentary). But you have Never heard of Blek. The Banksey PR are Machine sold the media and art establishment a lie and they have all swllowed it. But the real kidz on the street don’t believe the HYPE. that why his stuff is getting defaced. The Irony should not be lost to him. Its not cool to Bite.

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    1. Wow! Thanks for the insightful comment!

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  5. They is being influence, and there is outright copying. Passing off others stlye as your own. Like most cultural thing that eminate from poor nighbourhoods, eventually the rich kids high jack it. But you cant blame them for wanting to be cool too. They can be part of it but not claim to have brought it. Hip the hip-hop vanacular, Banksy is a perpertrator and gts no love. He is a corporate dude.

    http://atticusthird.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/banksy-might-not-be-as-edgy-and-original-as-we-think/

    http://paulbaines.co.uk/2008/12/life-before-banksy-blek-le-rat/

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2025790/Banquesy-The-Frenchman–known-Blek-le-Rat–accusing-Banky-stealing-guerilla-art-style.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/article811130.ece

    http://www.counterfire.org/index.php/articles/39-reviews/4550-banksy-backlash

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    1. Very well writ, sir. Right now at the moment that area has been completely painted over — any sign of Banksy is completely gone. Justice served?

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  6. There is a war going on in street art that you guys are not aware of.

    Banksy painted over a Robbo Tag the had been on the wall for 30 year. Very one Knew not to write over it out of respect for the legendary Train Tagger Robbo whose tags were in the most imposibly dangerous to reach places. Pleople be like how did he tag there without getting killed or falling to his death.

    Banksy not content with stealing the style of another legend ,Blec.. His PR machine sort to court controversy by painting over the tag of a respected Old School King, Robbo, to increase his Fame. It’s like pissing on BIGGIE Smalls grave to kidz in Brooklyn that are really into the rap mucic and saying to themVanila Ice is the best rapper ever.

    King Robbo disses Banksy by defacing a Banksy. He questions Banksy’s artistic integrity and the stealing of Blek le Rat’s style.

    http://www.dedeceblog.com/2011/02/15/banksy-vs-robbo/

    http://graffoto1.blogspot.com/2010/01/robbo-vs-banksy-did-you-think-it-was.html

    If you want to know more about Blec Le Rat

    http://bleklerat.free.fr/stencil%20graffiti.html

    RIP Banksy Robbo has the last word.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/the-gloves-are-off-graffiti-legend-king-robbo-has-resurfaced-to-settle-a-score-with-banksy-2270575.html?action=Gallery&ino=4

    http://www.banksy-prints.com/2010/03/banksy-robbo-london-again/

    http://www.dedeceblog.com/2011/02/15/banksy-vs-robbo/

    Class War: “King Robbo so Real They crowned you twice.”

    http://www.dedeceblog.com/2011/02/15/banksy-vs-robbo/

    http://www.dedeceblog.com/2011/02/15/banksy-vs-robbo/

    Street art is supposed to be on the street. That why its called street art. The Tate Modern gets bomded (tagged) by Robbo. For showing Banksy art. A protest to the gentryfication of ghetto art. Basically Banksy is not a subversive but a sellout.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/the-gloves-are-off-graffiti-legend-king-robbo-has-resurfaced-to-settle-a-score-with-banksy-2270575.html?action=Gallery&ino=9

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    1. Thank you for the excellent links. I will look into this Robbo artist — am certainly intrigued!

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