I met Karl Lagerfeld last night. What does one say to a genius like Karl? I wanted to be original, to provoke him to think, I wanted to impress Mr. Lagerfeld. So, I asked him what he thought of Banksy and if the popular street artist was truly an artiste in his eyes. He paused for a couple seconds before nonchalantly replying, “If you’re paying for the materials and you’re doing it, then it’s art.” The once-in-a-lifetime meeting was merely in my dream; alas I’m not the only one with Banksy on the mind. The elusive British street artist has taken up residency in New York for the month of October, revealing a new work of satirical art somewhere in the five boroughs everyday, released via his blog, banksyny.com. Like most everything Banksy does, it’s sending the city in a mad scavenger hunt for his next prank on pop culture. The interactive exhibition comes complete with an audio guide—dial the toll-free number spray-painted next to the painting of the day. Ironically, one of the first questions I asked my husband the day I met him was the same one my subconscious asked Mr. Lagerfeld in my dream. My husband reminded me that regardless of whether mayor Bloomberg (or anyone else for that matter) thinks that calling graffiti fine art is like attempting to shove a square block into the definition of art’s tight-knit circle, it doesn’t matter. If your paintings fetch up to $1.8 million at Sotheby’s, what’s to question? As Banksy puts it, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” And so, this masked crusader continues to preach his message on the streets of New York.
“If you want to say something and have people listen then you have to wear a mask. If you want to be honest then you have to live a lie.”
Thus far, Banksy’s Better Out Than In tour has: Oct. 1: Launched the street’s in play.
Oct. 2: Impersonated a New Yorker’s accent.
Oct. 3: Provided a a satirical introduction into the art world.
Oct. 4: Offered a few random graffiti tags a Broadway makeover.
Oct. 5: Delivered calm via a 4-cylinder 1992 GMC delivery truck; complete with rainbow, waterfall and butterflies.
Oct. 6: Mocked Middle Eastern rebels who killed Dumbo with a rocket. Oct. 7: Caught the police capturing a healing heart balloon.
Oct. 8: Kept it witty with dead philosophers.
Oct. 9: Recreated the infamous WikiLeaks “Crazy Horse.”
Oct. 10: Caused some territorial New Yorker’s to attempt to charge people to take photos of today’s art. Oct. 11: Sent Sirens of the Lambs, a slaughterhouse delivery truck packed with squealing cows, pigs and other stuffed animal puppets, through the Meatpacking District. Oct. 12: Offered a concrete confessional.
Oct. 13: Sold real, signed Banksy canvases at a Central Park stall for $60 each. Only three people took advantage of the one-day pop-up, which The Guardian estimates was worth a total of $225,000. Banksy announced that the sale would not happen again. However, in the following days stalls of Banksy fakes (complete with “Certificate of Inauthenticity”) sold out for the same price. Oct. 14: Stood up for graffiti art.
Oct. 15: Challenged street artists, who have been defacing his work within hours of its release, to destroy a memorial of the twin towers. It was the only one we could get to that hadn’t already been destroyed.
Oct. 16: Made a statement on capitalism via a giant replica of Ronald McDonald, who was having his shoes shined by a real boy.
Oct. 17: Caused a Brooklyn landlord to hire security guards ’round the clock, install Plexiglas and a rolling metal gate to protect and preserve a silhouette of geishas and a cherry blossom tree on the side of an apartment building. It’s estimated value at auction is $1 million. And this all happened after a vandal was thrown to the ground by a group of bystanders that caught him in the act of defacing the piece. Fans then restored the piece with alcohol wipes.
Oct. 18: Opened a pop up art gallery under the Highline in Chelsea.
Oct. 19: Warned us about STD’s. Oct. 20: Reminded us that he’s just pushing our buttons.
Oct. 21: Managed to attract up to 50 viewers at one time to see his “Ghetto 4 Life” piece in South Brox. An area that has reported seven murders, 16 rapes, 354 robberies and 396 felony assaults so far this year.
Oct. 22: Recreated the Sphinx of Giza from smashed cinderblocks. The dirty water surrounding the sculpture didn’t deter a group of men who claimed it as their own, attempting to sell bricks of the deconstructed piece for $100 a pop.
Oct. 23: Caused people to speculate that Banksy’s tour has been cut short with the announcement, “Today’s art has been canceled due to police activity.” Perhaps he was buying time or as my Mr. suggested, maybe he’s hitting up the N.Y.P.D. for the ultimate in-your-face location. Nonetheless, why do people think Banksy is just one guy and that he’s actually doing this work himself? C’mon people, he’s probably watching and chuckling from a Penthouse. In France. Banksy is an efficiently run company and the CEO is certainly not doing the secretary’s job. Oct. 24: Hit the Hustler Club with a dapper dude “waiting in vain,” wilting flowers in hand.
Today, he announced his work would be revealed at 5p.m. And then moved it to 6p.m. Stay tuned.