Atlantic Cities

Why Banksy Chose New York For His Street Art Comeback

World-renowned street artist Banksy has New Yorkers on a frenzied treasure hunt for his new works, popping up daily on walls and doors across the city. (The Telegraph has made a helpful map to track his "show" so far). The artist is calling his month-long "residency" in New York "Better Out Than In."

He's been mostly elusive. But today, the Village Voice published a rare interview with Banksy, whose real name is unknown. The artist chose the Voice because he "feels an affinity with people who provide content for free on street corners."

Banksy has found tremendous success in gallery exhibitions and auctions in recent years, following international fame for his stenciled graffiti replete with political and social commentary. Judging from his email exchange with the Voice, Banksy is experiencing successful artist angst -- am I making too much money to be a real artist? He wrote to the Voice, "Commercial success is a mark of failure for a graffiti artist. We're not supposed to be embraced in that way."

Banksy says he wanted to return to street art. He chose to do so in New York because of its high foot traffic, bounty of hiding places, and well, good pizza.

But even if Banksy wants to reject commercial success, he can’t keep away the popular attention. On day one of his residency, Banksy launched an Instagram account. As soon as he posts a new work, fans are out hunting. They all know the art could disappear any moment. 

Check out Banksy's mark on New York so far (in chronological order), and some ways the public has responded. 

On day 5, a moving truck was the apparatus for Banksy's work.

On day 6, it was a video.

Keywords: New York, Banksy, Street Art

Jenny Xie is a fellow at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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