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Definition: Banksy from Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins

Robin Gunningham (1974-), Br. graffiti artist. The identity of the secretive artist remains uncertain. Some sources give his real name as Robin Banks, but this is probably a pun (like that of Rob da Bank). “‘Is it true that your real name is Robin Gunningham, and that you are a public schoolboy from Bristol? No lies, please.' ‘My job occasionally requires a little light law-breaking, so I've never confirmed or denied my identity’” [Interview by e-mail, Sunday Times, June 14, 2009].

Summary Article: Banksy
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English graffiti artist, painter, and film director. His work is political and satirical, sprayed in public places all over the world as well as painted on canvasses for gallery display and sale. His identity has remained open to public conjecture from the 1990s.

His techique usually involves stencils, enabling him to craft his paintings with great detail in a short time. He often juxtaposes popular icons with incongruous images, for example a war helicopter adorned with a large pink bow. Other work includes retakes on famous masterpieces, for example Claude Monet's water lilies littered with overturned shopping trolleys and Van Gogh's sunflowers, wilted and dying. Rats are also a common theme. His documentary film about street artists, Exit Through the Gift Shop, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 and was nominated for an Academy Award.

In 2008 the British newspaper The Mail on Sunday revealed him as Bristol-based Robin Gunningham, but his identity is unconfirmed.

He began spray-painting trains and walls in Bristol in the early 1990s and expanded his settings throughout England, then all over the world by the early 2000s. He painted nine scenes, for example, on the barrier wall separating Israel and Palestine in 2006. He also staged several stunts, such as placing his own mock cave painting in the British Museum in 2005 and smuggling a life-sized inflatable statue of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner into Disneyland in California in 2006. Commercial work includes the cover art for Blur's 2003 album Think Tank. He staged the exhibition Banksy Versus Bristol Museum, featuring more than 100 pieces, at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery in 2009.

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