The great street artist Banksy is in New York City for the month of October and he is leaving his mark tagging the urban core.  We have celebrated the enigmatic work of Banksy and we have always appreciated his mocking of vulgar American institutions.

The arrival of Banksy in New York City has set expectation of Art and commerce in whole new, confrontational, context that confounds the commonplace understanding of what we want to last in society and what was created to simply disappear or be defaced.

Street art tends to get obliterated — via cover-up painting or tagging by others.

Banksy’s immediately iconic, and beautiful, red balloon for NYC was instantly ruined by rival tagging:

British graffiti artist Banksy popped up again on Monday, tagging a wall in Red Hook with a 3-dimensional red heart-shaped balloon covered in bandages — which was quickly defaced by a rival artist, according to reports.

Graffiti artist “Omar NYC,” also known as “SWATCH,” spray-painted over the heart and scrawled his own name next to the artwork in front of shocked fans who’d gathered to gawk at the piece, reports the blog AnimalNY.

Banksy knows the rules of the road, and he is certainly fine with the temporary lives of his street art — even when ruined by the crass aesthetic of lesser individuals — that’s part of the public square spectacle:  Everything goes.  Nothing lasts.

I wonder how Banksy feels about self-serving preservationists who, instead of covering up his work, remove it from the public eye so they can turn a private profit on his gifts to the city:

Many of Banksy’s murals – prized greatly by art fans but even more so by private property owners – have been displaced and auctioned. In Los Angeles in August, a Banksy Flower Girl piece was removed from a gas station and put up for auction. The starting bid was $300,000.

In February, a piece entitled Slave Labour disappeared under mysterious circumstances from a North London Poundland store, only to turn up in a Miami auction later that month, with an asking price of $700,000.

There can never be a proper aesthetic blending between art and commerce — the end result is always something crass and cheap.

True Art that survives between leaps of generations is always beyond the realm of ordinary, popular, thinking, and it takes years — sometimes centuries — for the real intention of the artist to be discovered and understood and appreciated. The value in it all is in the hidden thought of the technique, and never in the visible end result.

A True Artist must always risk popularity and eschew temporal riches for the greater goodness of sharing something that cannot be fully understood and appreciated in the low arc of a human lifetime.

Right thoughts tend to require stewing, and are often misunderstood by the current, common, mind. Longevity is the purpose, and preservation of the promise of the self is what one must covet to reveal a future truth beyond the carcass of the immediate lie.

6 Comments

  1. This reminds me of when the Banksy graffiti piece that was by my former office was defaced, as I articulated a couple of years ago on this very blog :

    http://bolesblogs.com/2011/04/07/when-banksy-graffiti-is-attacked-by-graffiti/

    Some of the comments there ring very well here — apparently most well known graffiti artists make an effort to disfigure his work.

    I imagine Banksy takes it all in stride… how many of those artists are making introductions to the Simpsons? (But then again, how many would want to do so?)

    Incidentally, the owner of the building in Dumbo eventually painted that wall a dull gray… eradicating any evidence that Banksy had been there.

      1. What a shame desecrating a piece of art like that.

        I recently saw a similar crime being committed here – a middle aged woman with a can of spray paint defacing a mosaic – I asked mr P if we should report it and he advised me not to .

        The cause was local politics, the mosaic was celebrating one political party and the woman concerned was leader of the local opposition party. Still a shame to see a work of art ruined like that.

        1. Love that story, thanks!

          Part of the final Banksy piece of art included beautiful and actual balloons spelling out “B-A-N-K-S-Y” and the balloons were attached on a high rooftop of a building. Within seconds of the reveal, you had to guys climbing the wall to tear down the balloons so they could be sold. All caught on videotape. All wholly disgusting.

          One smart building owner protected his Banksy art with a roll-down metal door that was installed on a wall to prevent the art from being shorn from the bricks.