Been doing a lot of vinyl shopping lately. One of my recent cops was this pair of limited edition 12” (pictured above and after the jump) with cover art by none other than Banksy himself. Only 1,000 copies were made and it comes in 4 colorways (beige, green, gold, and silver). Unfortunately I could only get my hands on a gold and a silver but I can’t complain cause this is the cheapest possible way to own a limited edition Banksy.
Production credit goes to “DJDM” who is most likely Danger Mouse (DJ Shadow is rumored to have had a hand in this project as well but that is less certain). Banksy and Danger Mouse have collaborated multiple times before including the now (in)famous Paris is Burning stunt from 2006 when they doctored hundreds of copies of Paris Hilton’s album and snuck them into UK record stores to be bought by unsuspecting Paris fans (don’t feel too bad for them… a handful of the ~500 copies sold on ebay for a few hundred bucks).
So I know a lot of people think Banksy is a sellout but that’s an unfair label, imho. Yes, he’s a bonafied superstar whose works are now fetching 6-figures at art auctions. Yes, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt own a couple pieces. A lot of people in the street art community are uncomfortable with this kind of popularity and are wary of the artform becoming overly commercialized and exploited (like breakdancing in the 80s). In my opinion, that’s all part of the point! So-called “urban art” has always struggled with legitimacy in the high art world. Aside from Basquiat, few graffiti artists have really been embraced by the “experts”. Highlighting this point is the 2005 Banksy stunt which involved Banksy putting on a fake beard, sneaking into a bunch of NYC museums, and hanging up his works (complete w/ placards) next to “legitimate” pieces.
In my opinion, this was a big “f*ck you” to curators and art historians who refused to accept street art as a legitimate form. To me, this stunt was basically Banksy saying, “F*ck the conventional channels of getting art exhibited. This sh*t is art whether a curator says so or not!”
Some would argue that now that Banksy finally IS getting attention from the elite, he can no longer be considered a street artist. It’s a good point. In fact, when I went to his “Barely Legal” warehouse show in 2006, I did get the feeling that his works sort of lost their context by being presented legally on canvas and arranged on walls as opposed to being out in the wild, illegally painted on buildings and billboards where anyone can view them. Call it urban site-specificity.
Can a piece only be considered street art if it’s out on the streets? Is the point of street art NOT to be accepted by the elite? Is it Banksy’s point that this SHOULDN’T be the point? Or am I just missing the point completely? Who knows.
That said, Banksy has undoubtedly brought street art to a very broad audience and has forced people to at least consider it as a legitimate artform. Though I understand the reasons for the backlash, I think it’s unfair to turn on him just because Urban Outfitters is selling his book. Dude is a living legend. His influence (and arguably Blek’s) is apparent in a whole generation of artists’ work.
But I digress… Here’s a snippet of the aforementioned Danger Mouse. Though it’s a nasty beat (and with all due respect to the Mouse)… this purchase was all about the album art.
MP3: DJDM - Keep It Real/Laugh Now - Track 1 (snippet)
(holler if you want the full track)