Banksy’s NYC residency is over

The British graffiti artist signs off his month-long residency in New York with a plea to save outdoor art
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Banksy's balloon lettering, his final New York piece
Banksy's balloon lettering, his final New York piece

Was that so bad? Though he has his supporters – not least Damien Hirst – many within the arts press were dismissive of the British graffiti artist Banksy's self-described month-long New York residency, which began on 1st October and has just ended.

True, his sense of humour can be trite, his politics simplistic and his supposed anonymity a little cloying; there have been a few well-researched articles as to Banky’s identity; he probably isn’t the simple butcher's son he was initially rumoured to be. Yet, even if you don’t care for his style or whims, it’s hard to argue that his works weren’t an improvement on bare walls.

 

Banksy's Crazy Horse (2013)
Banksy's Crazy Horse (2013)

We certainly enjoyed his Crazy Horse piece, and the street side vendor selling genuine Banksy prints for $60. Also, its good to see that the painting he bought, adapted and returned the very charity shop he purchased it from has raised $615,000 the AIDS and homelessness charity, Housing Works. Banksy signed off yesterday with a free t-shirt design incorporating one of this month’s works  - “take the jpeg to a copy store and make it yourself” he instructs – as well as photographs of an inflatable simulacrum of a simple, almost traditional balloon-lettering ‘throw-up’ mounted on a wall beside the Long Island Expressway.

 

Banksy's souvenir t-shirt design
Banksy's souvenir t-shirt design

The accompanying text says “And that's it. Thanks for your patience. It's been fun. Save 5pointz. Bye” The “Save 5pointz” bit refers to the informal graffiti exhibition space, close to MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, which is due for demolition later this year.


Meanwhile, the accompanying audio commentary makes a more-or-less heartfelt plea to keep artworks outside “on the cave walls of our communities.” We can relate to this; our book Wild Art puts forward a similar case. If you missed anything this month, you can still scroll through all the works here; and to find out more about how art thrives outside the gallery system, do pick up a copy of Wild Art.


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