The Bristol graffiti artist with the international reputation
His work commands tens of thousands of pounds, he's been described as inspiring, provocative, illusive, infamous - but no-one really knows anything about him, not even his real name.
The Banksy on Park Street in Bristol
Banksy has been described as the invisible man of graffiti art. Very few facts are known about the man himself - although his work is known throughout the world.
According to Tristan Manco, in the book Stencil Graffiti, Banksy "was born in 1974 and raised in Bristol, England. The son of a photocopier engineer, he trained as a butcher but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s".
Very few people are known to have interviewed Banksy face to face. Simon Hattenstone from Guardian Unlimited is one of the very few.
He described him as "a cross of Jimmy Nail and British rapper Mike Skinner" and "a 28 year old male who showed up wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a silver tooth, silver chain, and one silver earring."
Banksy told Hattenstone that his parents think their son is a painter and decorator.
What is not in dispute is that Banksy started as a freehand graffiti artist in the early 1990s as one of Bristol's DryBreadZ Crew.
He was inspired by local artists and his work was part of the larger Bristol underground scene - a term used to describe the culture surrounding trip hop music, drum and bass and graffiti art that has existed in Bristol since the early 1990s.
Banksy's Mild Mild West
His technique combines graffiti writing with a distinctive stencilling technique
Banksy's stencils feature striking and humorous images occasionally combined with slogans. The message is usually anti-war, anti-capitalist or anti-establishment.
His subjects are wide ranging, including animals such as monkeys and rats, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly.
He also makes stickers and sculpture and was responsible for the cover art of Blur's 2003 album Think Tank.
His art has appeared in cities around the world.
In 2007, Sotheby's auction house in London auctioned three Banksy works, reaching the highest ever price for a Banksy work at auction: over £102,000 for his Bombing Middle England. Two of his other graffiti works, Balloon Girl and Bomb Hugger, sold for £37,200 and £31,200 respectively.
To coincide with the second day of auctions, Banksy updated his website with a new image of an auction house scene showing people bidding on a picture that said, "I Can't Believe You Morons Actually Buy This S***."
last updated: 28/05/2008 at 07:56