Saluting the flag

by Chris Bertram on March 6, 2008

thanks banksy

Originally uploaded by ben bell

I’m not normally a big fan of Banksy, but this one (photo by Ben Bell) strikes me as quite brilliant.



Great Zamfir 03.06.08 at 11:03 am

When I lived in Bristol, there was a minor incident when the city cleaners removed one of his old paintings. It was quite funny to hear the local shopkeepers explain that it was ugly, and rightly removed, until someone claimed the painting was valued at 100,000 pounds. After this, the wall owner thought it was an important picture and considered sueing the coty council for that amount.


Ingrid Robeyns 03.06.08 at 11:29 am

Great piece of art.

Chris, I’m curious — why are you not a big fan of Banksy? Different art taste or his politics, or something else (I should add that I don’t know much about his politics except that it’s obviously anti-capitalist and against The System.)


Buck Theorem 03.06.08 at 11:38 am

I am increasingly convinced that Banksy is one of the most noteworthy, genuine and essential artists and satirists around. This piece alone works on so many levels and he has hit his target spot-on. Funny, revealing, utilising old and new art forms and formats, bridging high and low art… brilliant in its simplicity.


wissen 03.06.08 at 11:59 am

His art on the Israeli wall was good.


Chris Bertram 03.06.08 at 12:00 pm

Ingrid, I think I’m probably suffering from Banksy-exhaustion from many years in Bristol.


chris armstrong 03.06.08 at 1:33 pm

I like this one a lot. As an ex-Bristolian, I am not yet exhausted. The one of the guy hanging from the ‘window’ on the side of the council building was puerile, non-political, but brilliant too.


Dave 03.06.08 at 4:10 pm

Ah yes, the defilement of private property to produce high-priced ‘art’, creating a commodity to enhance the self-worth of the rich by peddling a faux-radical chic… If there were any more internal contradictions in his pose, you’d think his head would explode. Thanks Banksy! Next time draw it on a piece of paper.


Matt Weiner 03.06.08 at 4:19 pm

This and his other stuff looks great. From photographs, it reminds me a little of Ernest Pignon-Ernest’s Walls of Napoli, which I’ve never seen either (just heard the soundtrack). Though I imagine the political context is much different, since I think Pignon-Ernest is more official (and it seems he works in the studio and then puts sketches up on walls).


luci 03.06.08 at 7:50 pm

Dunno, tastes an’all. The incorporation of the stuff on the wall is cool. But the picture itself looks a little too obvious. Maybe I’m missing something…

If a piece of garbage had just gotten hung up, inadvertently, and the kids were staring up at it, suggesting a salute maybe.


Ginger Yellow 03.06.08 at 8:02 pm

What I like about Banksy, apart from the wit, which even I admit isn’t particularly deep, is the way he sets his pieces in context. It isn’t just clever-clever grafitti plastered on a wall. It incorporates the medium and surroundings to make its point. This is a perfect example.


belle le triste 03.06.08 at 9:35 pm

what i like is even simpler — in some stretch of urban space forgotten and unloved even by those who pass it every day, here’s this unmoored little puff of exuberance, as you peer sluggishly out the bus window, in no way expecting to have your gaze held; i saw a new one yesterday in the maze of town above city road that i only go through when the not-so-comfy 394 comes before the 38: a small girl sliding down a banister blowing bubbles — no political “point” really, unless it’s that a dirty concrete surface without a picture is less cheering than one with a picture, if you like the picture

come on like this there’s a kind of gift-economy generosity to them


Charlie 03.06.08 at 11:50 pm

The greatest contribution that Banksy, and others working in similar milieux, have made to our world is this:

They have emphasised that the VISIBLE is the PUBLIC. If you find Banksy annoying or vandalistic, ask yourself if you would prefer a big billboard with a picture of cheez whiz on it.

Didn’t think so.


Righteous Bubba 03.07.08 at 12:02 am

They have emphasised that the VISIBLE is the PUBLIC.

Has Banksy painted the faces of passers-by?


mollymooly 03.07.08 at 1:59 am

I wish he’d used a real Tesco bag.


Jon H 03.07.08 at 5:02 am

Sure it’s a real Banksy and not a clever Tesco ad?


Frank Evans 03.07.08 at 5:59 pm

Dave, do you mind telling me where I can buy this high-priced art you mention? I wish to pander to my faux-radical persona, but this art has so far eluded my bulging wallet, as his works are usually on a wall, bridge etc and hence a commodity out of my reach (other than when I buy the entire building or road). In fact, if Mr Banksy actually did as you suggest and did it on paper instead it would be far more accessible to people with the bulging wallets, those faux-radicals your (faux?) class warrior disposition seems to take such umbridge with. Please wipe that froth from your mouth, and just enjoy the satire people such as Banksy provide us with ;-)


Jon H 03.07.08 at 11:31 pm

Frank: try places like this if you want to know how people buy banksy art.


shteve 03.07.08 at 11:57 pm

Why brilliant?

Instantly engaging, but it’s a bit confusing and doesn’t bear much thinking.


xaaronx 03.08.08 at 4:25 pm

Yes, but at places like that they’re not buying it from him. Rather they are buying pieces that had already been sold and which the show’s organizer had collected.

From the man’s own website:

Aren’t street art auctions a bit lame?
I don’t agree with auction houses selling street art – its undemocratic, it glorifies greed and I never see any of the money.

What’s with all the gallery shows?
None of the print and painting exhibitions in proper art galleries are anything to do with me, it’s all stuff they bought previously. I only ever mount shows in warehouses or war zones or places full of live animals (I’m aware the pictures don’t stand up on their own).

Comments on this entry are closed.