Street artist Banksy has famously made his way to NYC. For the past few weeks he’s sprinkled his work throughout the city. Everyday, he posts photos on his Instagram feed of new pieces and where people can find them. The response, so far, has been staggering. His reputation and widespread media coverage has people turning out in droves to view his art.
Not everyone is impressed, though. Jerry Saltz, famed art critic for New York Magazine, calls him “Mr. Meh,” and is generally underwhelmed by the message of Banksy’s work. Saltz writes in a recent post on Vulture, “His black silhouette figures, surreptitiously painted on walls around the city, strike me as formulaic tweaked political cartooning, and anarchy-lite.” He goes on to say that Banksy is a repetitive thinker; If you’ve seen one, then you’ve seen them all. Additionally, Saltz notes that artists like Kara Walker have been creating silhouette works for nearly 20 years and Banksy’s work, “…doesn’t pack anywhere near the formal or psychological incendiary wallop” as Walker’s does.
In the above video, Saltz takes to the streets. He found a crowd of people surrounding Banksy’s work on the side of a DSW. Interestingly, the piece was vandalized. Another street artist screwed a large sheet of Plexiglas over Banksy’s work and painted “Let the Streets Decide” over top. Once it’s removed, Saltz talks with the crowd about what they think of Banksy and the particular piece:
From the conversation, Saltz has a realization. He writes, “I suddenly got what the reaction to Banksy is about: It’s being part of the reaction to a Banksy. It’s a multiplying communal occasion, friendly, a way to talk to strangers and share a piece of New York. It’s anti-Establishment, anti-capitalist, and anti-art-world enough to add a frisson of libertarian rebellion and take-it-to-the-street cred.”
Where do you stand with Saltz and the people on the street? Do you think Banksy is interesting?