An article in today's Guardian suggests that Banksy, ultimately, is not a serious artist, and his works are not great art - and may even threaten the values that tether true art to society with his parodic style.
This is nonsense, and dangerous thinking. It's the sort of quasi-traditional, pseudo-conservative twaddle that mars so much British thinking (and critical writing) on practitioners who bother to extend the limits of their chosen creative fields.
Rather than wagging a finger at Mr. Banksy, the Guardian (supposedly left-leaning) might want to hand him a flower in the barrel of a gun - his aesthetic revolution has not only been televised, it's been put against the very walls where many would be shot ....
There are, I suggest, four measures by which all great art and artists can be evaluated:
1. Does the work engage with the recognised tradition within the art form, and then extend, refresh, or challenge it?
2. Does the work make innovative use of materials or dissemination?
3. Is the work visually memorable, striking, original, or (even) beautiful?
4. Does the work bring about new ways of thinking or feeling, or both, about any or all of the following: society, being human, political, religious, philosophical, aesthetic, or ethical concerns?
By any of these measures, Banksy is a great artist. - just as Francis Bacon was.
He has refined the methods of graffiti art, presented innumerable memorable, fresh and astonishing new images to the public, and done so in a way to make those who encounter his radical work confront themselves and the world.
He is the equal, or better, of Emin or Hirst. He is a national treasure. England should be proud of its latest genius.
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