For centuries, street art has defined our world. The first known example of “modern style” graffiti survives in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus and is circa 1500 years old. Since then, political and social art has been present in urban streets. The elusive graffiti artist Banksy is one of the most prominent people in this field of art. While he is still unknown to the public, his art is not. Below are some of his best works as well as those of various different street artists.
“Should graffiti be judged on the same level as modern art? Of course not: It’s way more important than that.” — Banksy
This graffiti art was made in San Francisco in 2010 by Banksy. It comments on indigenous rights of native peoples whose lands have been invaded and occupied in the United States.
These two art pieces are by Banksy. “I Remember When All This Was Trees” is located in Detroit, Michigan and refers to the city’s financial deprivation, when homelessness in Detroit spiked in 2010. “Parking” can be found in Downtown LA and refers to the need for green space in cities.
The above street art was located in West London after the British Council painted over it six days later. It was painted by Mau Mau, an acclaimed graffiti artist, and commented on the Olympics Games’ negative corporate and environmental impacts. The below piece in São Paulo was inspired by Brazil’s decision to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Many believe that the billions poured into the this athletic event should have gone to vital public services such as education, sanitation, and hospitals.
Three of Banksy’s graffiti pieces are depicted here. The first in Southampton, England plays on the idea of a balloon usually representing childish freedom and hope. The second, which can also be seen in London, furthermore depicts a loss of love, hope, incense, childhood, and self-confidence. The third is another famous piece of art in Boston. It is a commentary on class stratification.