Known for his guerrilla-style graffiti art and biting commentary on society and consumerism, Banksy has made a name for himself without ever revealing his true identity. This anonymity was intended to avoid prosecution, but the side effect has been ever-increasing speculation on who this irreverent, witty artist could be, and if he might actually be a she, or even a group of people. His reputation for controversy has gained him a following that includes celebrities and high-profile people both in and out of the art world.
Banksy developed his stencil-style graffiti while hiding from the police after a graffiti attempt in his youth took longer than planned. Stencils were his solution to that problem, and he hasn’t been caught since. Banksy’s works are controversial, and spread all over the world. From illegally hanging his works in New York’s prominent museums to printing his own currency, Banksy’s cheeky way of creating public street art with no witnesses or permission has elevated both the mystery surrounding his identity and his popularity.
The nature of Banksy’s work means that much of it is either purposely or inadvertently destroyed. Some have been covered by Plexiglas and preserved for the public. Every year, a small selection of his public works are removed from their original locations and sold. Umbrella Rat is an example of one of these works. It features one of Banksy’s signature stenciled rat figures, holding an umbrella. It’s painted on a heavy steel door, which was once below an S-Bahn railway arch in Berlin-Mitte. There are additional tags and stencils by other street artists on this door as well.
The piece Black Bobby is a life-sized stencil of a police officer writing a ticket beneath flyers featuring images of Death, captioned “Wrong War.” This was created as part of a larger wall constructed of multiple panels like this one, all of which he painted while attending the first Semi Permanent exhibition held in Sydney, Australia in 2003.