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Art Attack

September 8, 2009

Before-and-after-pictures-001Last Thursday saw the sad removal of one of Banksy’s most famous pieces of public art from the wall of a block of flats in Stoke Newington, London renewing the contentious debate of what is and what isn’t public art. 

The piece in question was the cartoon version of the royal family (as pictured) that had been left untouched for the past 8 years until last week and was famously used as inspiration for the cover art for the Blur single Crazy Beat in 2003.

Banksy’s artwork has always been controversial and his place within the public mind undecided, due to the contrast in his form and type of art. His use of graffiti as an medium is a not a new concept, the term ‘graffiti artist’ has been around for decades, but the ways in which he expresses this art form and the level of detail he reaches really moves the art form forward.

His recent exhibition ‘Banksy vs the City Museum’ in Bristol was a fantastic free exhibit of some of his most famed pieces, both ink and sculpture, displayed in an exciting and innovative way and by taking over the city museum in the way he did,  he looked at how classical and contemporary ideas can work alongside one another. This exhibition boosted Bristol’s tourism having over 300,000 visitors since it opened June 13th 2009 and by raising £45,000 in museum donations is said to have contributed £10 million to the local economy. 

With these figures in mind, questions arise around whether councils should have the power to make such a call on graffiti; Cllr Alan Laing of Hackney Council initially stated: “The council’s position is not to make a judgement call on whether graffiti is art.”

So who’s decision should it be?

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