Is Banksy Getting Boring?

Crayon Soldier by Banksy

Dog Wizz by Banksy

Charlie Brown Arsonist by Banksy

Mickey & Minnie Mouse Billboard

I know, I know, it’s totally an overly sensational title. Bear with me and let me explain. The other day four new Banksy pieces went up here in Los Angeles, causing a flutter among street art blogs and Banksy hanger-on-ers alike. As potentially residing in either or both of these camps, I can say that I was flatly disappointed.

First off, the two top pieces, which are definitely him, seem a bit… too easy. A child soldier with a machine gun full of crayons, hasn’t that been done before? It feels like something a person would do if they wanted to try and rip off Banksy. A dog wizzing on the side of a building? That’s it?

I did find the Charlie Brown one funnier once I saw the image on Banksy’s website, giving it the proper context. The problem is, a lot of the people who wrote about the piece failed to mention that it was painted onto a building that had been condemned after it had been through a fire. Still, it seems a bit cookie cutter as well. Take on part pop icon, mix it with another part anarchist ideology and voila, you’ve made art. Good grief.

The last piece I’ve read was commissioned by Banksy, but that story seems weird to me. At the same time it certainly doesn’t seem like his style. Sure, there are people who can fake a different style but for whatever reason none of it feels like him. Either way I find this last piece totally out of character, and that’s a shame. It almost diminishes him in my eyes, like he was going for a cheap joke, even if it is well done, instead of being more clever, but clever is what makes him so good. It’s what separates him from all other street artists. Perhaps this is a fluke, perhaps I’m overthinking all of this, either way I think Banksy needs to try harder next time.


February 18, 2011