The still anonymous graffiti artist (“art terrorist”) known as  Banksy is the true heir to the Dadaist spirit.  He began defacing/enhancing his surroundings in the 1990s and his reputation grew largely by word of mouth free of any links to the arts establishment or glossy profiles.

Like Marcel Duchamp’s fountain, he redefines  ‘Art’  and his graffiti is in the best Anarcho-punk tradition –  provocative, public and funny.

In his Banksy versus Bristol Museum free exhibition (June 13th – August 31st 2009) it’s possible to see his works within a conventional arts space:

Shows like this will probably renew the ‘Banksy is a sell-out’ cries . Similar accusations followed in 2006 when  Angelina Jolie apparently spent a whacking $400,000 on three of his pieces at his ‘Barely Legal’ show in Los Angeles.

Because he’s making such big money is pretty ironic given the anti-capitalist / consumer message but that doesn’t make him a sell-out in my book. You do sense, however, that being accepted and feted by the smart press marks the end of the Banksy as street hero era.

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