Beginning on Wednesday, June 20th, reports hit that new art by Banksy was being spotted around Paris. Who is Banksy you ask? That is one of his great mysteries and he prefers to keep it that way. It is known that the artist is an England-based graffiti artist and activist and his work became known to many after the 2010 documentary film about him, Exit Through the Giftshop. Unlike a traditional painter stationed in a studio, Banksy travels the world to bring attention to political issues of the areas he stops in. In 2008 he visited New Orleans, Louisiana to bring attention to the continued blight and lack of repair and recovery to the city after Hurricane Katrina. Most of those pieces have been defaced or destroyed and the most popular painting, Umbrella Girl has had several robbery attempts.
Banksy chooses to paint in public places so everyone will have access to his art, but his notoriety and the exorbitant amount that people will pay to own one of his pieces makes them prey to quick theft and damage.
In Paris this past week Banksy painted around a dozen pieces in Paris. One is of rats taking a stroll wearing a bowler cap and carrying a parasol near the Eiffel tower.
There’s another piece which is a play on Jacques-Louis David’s famous painting of Napolean on rearing horseback. This time the rider is draped in red fabric, likely a commentary on France’s 2010 ban on Muslim face coverings.
This painting of a black child standing on a dilapidated box spraying a swastika onto a wallpapered wall (the same wallpaper stencil was used in Banksy’s 2008 piece entitled Don’t Flock Yourself), has already been defaced. By the next day, someone had covered it in blue and then white.
Arguably the most moving piece is that of a mourning child whose face is painted with running streaks of paint. This was wheat-pasted onto a fire door of Bataclan concert hall where 89 people were killed in a terrorist attack in 2015.
News outlets, art fans, and websites are posting conflicting information on which pieces are by Banksy and the current state of their condition. What better way to find out information than from the creator themselves?