Banksy is a Bristol-born graffitti artist believed to have been born in 1974 and active during the graffitti art scence from 1992-now. He is distinctive within the art world for his stylised stencil artwork which is invariably created and maintained on public property or in areas where there is a large potential public audience.
Although Banksy was active throughout the ninties it was his change to stenciling that ensured his relative individuality (relative in that the general public would not have seen much stencilised graffitti), and therefore tempered his success. So successful has Banksy become that various pieces of his art have sold for thousands of pounds and he has a substantial celebrity fanbase.
Another factor that has helped Banksy’s success is the enigma that surrounds his identity. Although Banksy has been theorised to be Robin Gunningham, and there is somewhat convincing evidence in terms of known movements that he is the man in question, the evidence requires large amounts of assumption, as someone from the same area (allegedly Bristol) and living in the same area as Banksy artwork does not mean it is the same person by any means. Furthermore, Bansky himself has said that while he cannot comment on who Banksy is or is not, that someone who can draw well (as Robin Gunningham was described) does not sounds like Bansky.
Banksy’s artwork is often centered politically or alludes to social conditions. While it would be unfair and untrue to label all his work as the work as that of a social satirist or commentator he is nonetheless established within British youth culture as political artist, due purely to the nature of his themes. While this has won him many fans, there are some who seem his work as unsophisicated with Charlie Brooker going as far as to say that “his work looks dazzlingly clever to idiots.”
Whatever your opinion on Banksy however, tthere is no denying his impact on modern art, and his central role in popularising graffitti as an artform and for this he must certainly be considered one the major modern artists, and judging him purely on his effect, not the validitiy or credibility of his approach, he must surely be seen as radical.