Art and Entertainment

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Press Association via AP
Alleged Banksy artwork in Bethnal Green, east London.

Graffiti Artist Banksy Unmasked as Robin Gunningham

July 14, 2008 12:23 PM
by Liz Colville
The identity of the admired British graffiti artist was “known to only a handful of trusted friends”—until now.

30-Second Summary

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The U.K.’s Mail on Sunday believes it has revealed the true identity of Banksy, the graffiti artist whose work has drawn a diverse crowd and six-figure sales to A-list celebrities. His name is Robin Gunningham.

The Mail writes that after a year of investigation, it can reveal Banksy as, “perhaps all too predictably, a former public schoolboy brought up in middle-class suburbia.”

Interviewing a man from Banksy’s alleged hometown of Bristol, using a photo of a graffiti artist taken in Jamaica in 2004, the Mail gleaned further information about his identity from public records, and tracked down former schoolmates and a teacher, who described Gunningham as a “gifted” artist. Former roommates and Bristol residents filled in further details, though the parents of Robin Gunningham were cagey when interviewed by the Mail.

Banksy is known for his highly critical depictions of war, race relations and royalty, often “remixing” classic works by artists such as Manet. In one of his most famous public exhibits, Banksy wandered into the Tate dressed as an elderly person and glued a picture to the museum wall in protest of the Iraq War.

Though some see the identification of Banksy as a denouement in the artist’s career—out of modesty and a disinterest in being considered an artist, Banksy has long desired anonymity—others contend that the status will not change the caché or value of Banksy’s work.

Headline Link: ‘Graffiti artist Banksy unmasked ... as a former public schoolboy from middle-class suburbia’

Background: Banksy exhibits, publishes, and talks anonymously

Opinions & Analysis: The status of street art; blowing Banksy’s cover

Reference: Banksy’s official Web site

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