Every time when someone mentions even the slightest interest in street art, you can bet that the name of Banksy will also be mentioned within the next two minutes or so. Most of these times, it will be the first name that comes up from the world of street artists, especially with people who admire the field from a distance and aren’t really all that immersed into it. But while it’s easier to remember particular works than names – especially if you’ve seen the works firsthand or if they feature a topic or a reference you like – it’s still easy to remember the name of Banksy.
I don’t know exactly what makes it so. Perhaps it’s his fame in the first place, perhaps it’s the elusive air of a concealed identity that contributed to the myth building and now he’s such a myth in the scene that we don’t really care or remember how it was before the Banksy craze even started. (For those of you which might be appalled of the go-to assumption of gender, please take note that there have been a few seemingly legit interviews with the artist and while he still withheld any identification details, he confirmed to be a man.) The concealed identity and the somewhat subversive message of his art – even more subversive than street art is in itself – definitely contributed to the image of a modern day Robin Hood patrolling the cities and symbolically sticking it to the man. Perhaps that is the main reason for which Banksy has become such a huge favorite. But could it be that his days of glory have passed? Is Banksy overrated? Let’s see what recent street art trends seem to indicate.
One of the nicest recent moves related to street art, which we also covered here, is transforming street art works into GIFs. This way, the merger of street art with the other relevant field of today, which is digital culture and digital art, can be complete. Our post about it also featured an awesome Tumblr account which focuses only on Banksy’s works and transforms them into ingenious and creative GIFs, almost like breathing new life into them. Therefore, we can assume that the artist is definitely still relevant at least to one insider of the street art culture, if we only count the maker of the GIFs and not his many fans as well.
But in spite of this rather distinguishable exception, the general impression is still that most people who are in the know about street art consider Banksy overrated and a bit passé. He seems to remain a cult hero or a name to drop for extra points only for those of us who are really completely outside about street art in general and have only recently come to terms with the fact that graffiti is not vandalism. As for the street artists themselves who are the most likely to predict trends and reflect the general feeling in the field, the number of those who consider Banksy overrated seems to be on the rise.
Little mischief acts like this one are becoming more and more frequent, in spite of the fact that his works are now protected by the law. In the eyes of many street art enthusiasts, perhaps that is just one more detail that makes Banksy overrated and no longer relevant, since the main purpose of street art should be, theoretically, to defy the space it will adorn. When the art itself becomes protected by law and its altering constitutes an instance of vandalism, it kind of lost its mojo, wouldn’t you say?