Banksy’s latest work, which will raise money for charity, underscores his elusiveness

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – It’s become one of the most widely quoted cliches, and be forewarned.  This story is about to add to the seemingly infinite number of times “Build it, and they will come” has been used, but the saying applies all too well to the street art of wall artist Banksy that have not been removed for sale, graffiti tagged beyond recognition, or painted over.

Case in point:  his “All I Ever Wanted Was A Shoulder To Crayon” wall stencil on the north wall of the Corner Cafe on West 24th Street and 6th Avenue.  Within a 15 minute span of PIX11 being there, art lovers from Sweden, the nation of Georgia, Los Angeles, the East Village and a variety of other places worldwide and nationwide dropped by to see the artwork.

It’s the silhouette of a dog urinating on a fire hydrant.  A cartoon thought bubble emerges from the hydrant reading, “You complete me.”  Even though Banksy completed the artwork October 3rd, and it’s become partly obscured by tagging, it’s still very much a draw.

Mzia Chikaradze, PhD, an art historian with a joint appointment at Columbia University and the School of Fine Arts in Tblisi, Georgia, had come with a friend to admire Banksy’s creation Tuesday afternoon.

“Street art,” Prof. Chikaradze said, “is part of … every day life in New York.  I love it.”

She was by no means alone in her admiration.  “The thing I like about it is there’s humor to it,” Tom Nipper, a Banksy fan from the Los Angeles area, said as he admired “All I Ever Wanted,” adding, “Often there’s a message.”

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Banksy’s piece unveiled Tuesday is a repainted canvas bought, then re-donated to a Manhattan thrift shop.

In the case of “All I Ever Wanted,” that message might be that territorial claims are fleeting.  The dog in the artwork is obviously marking his territory, but since Banksy installed it nearly four weeks ago, other artists and taggers have attempted to stake their claims to the wall on which it appears.  Some taggers and artists have partially painted over “All I Ever Wanted.”

“We love all of it,” said East Village resident Dana DiLeo.  “There’s a buzz about it, and we want to see them all before someone vandalizes it.”  She was referring to the self-created Banksy tour she and two of her girlfriends were on around the city.

 

Banksy, who is based in London, has never allowed his identity to be revealed.  His work, which he creates in a variety of media, regularly fetches tens of thousands of dollars each.  Much of his work is stenciled on exterior walls of buildings, but those pieces are often physically extracted and sold for five or six figures.

Love his work or hate it, it certainly provokes comments.  More than a hundred PIX11 viewers responded to our Facebook and Twitter inquiry asking for people’s reactions to Banksy’s art.  A few highlights include Hector Cruz’s comment:    “Thank God this fake artisit (sic) is leaving.  We have real graffiti artists in Ny and don’t need a brit to show us how it’s done.”

Debra Ann Garcia wrote, in part, “I love his work and hope he comes back!”  She added that she was particularly fond of Banksy’s work titled, “This Is My New York Accent.”

Viewer Ed Pepper Marwas not subtle in his criticism:   “Only in New York do they make a hero out of a vandal.  New York is pathetic, dirty and smells like pee.”

Perhaps Banksy had the same thought when he stenciled “All I Ever Wanted,” with its urinating dog.

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Titled “The banality of the banality of evil,” the street artist’s oil painting is being auctioned for charity by Housing Works.

One of Banksy’s biggest boosters is Mayor Michael Bloomberg, although the boost has been anything but intentional.  New York’s billionaire mayor, who is a major patron of the arts, condemned Banksy’s street art earlier this month.

“When you come and damage people’s property or public property, that is not art,” Bloomberg said.  The criticism has only heightened interest in Banksy’s work.

That body of work in New York is called ‘Better Out Than In,” an ongoing exhibit in residence in the city, as the artist describes it on his website.  He says online that he is spending the month of October releasing new works daily.

On Tuesday, his release was what his website describes as an oil on oil on canvas.  He’d purchased a nondescript landscape from a thrift store and added his own ironic twist to it — a Nazi in uniform, quite probably Adolf Hitler — staring longingly across the lake in the foreground and mountain vista in the background, a la Berchtesgaten, the fuehrer’s Alpine retreat.

Titled “The Banality of the Banality of Evil,” Banksy donated his newest work to the Housing Works charity, which sells used fine furnishings, clothing and art to raise money for people with HIV/AIDS.  Housing Works announced on Tuesday that it’s auctioning off “The Banality,” with a starting bid of $76,000.