Over the last decade, Banksy has become one of the most popular and intriguing artists of our generation.
His street art has garnered the attention of high profile art aficionados and gallerists, along with the general public at large. His eye-catching satirical pieces that balance political/social commentary with a dark sense of humor have helped legitimize graffiti as an art form. Banksy’s first foray into film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary. Throughout his career, Banksy has maintained his anonymity, a rarity in our social media culture, letting his work speak for him. Directed by Aurélia Rouvier and Seamus Haley, Banksy Most Wanted explores his popularity, the impact of his work, and how he forged his identity through his anonymity.
The film goes in many different directions to cover Banksy’s work and history. At times, the documentary felt jumbled, jumping amongst multiple storylines in an uneven manner, which made the pacing feel off. Despite this flaw, I found the film interesting because the filmmakers examined Banksy through multiple lenses, not merely critiquing his work. They made Banksy’s political and social satire accessible to people unfamiliar with his art, or any street art for that matter. Moreover, the impact of how his work defies the elitist art circuit, while still receiving critical acclaim, will resonate with many people.
The interviews throughout the film were all interesting and informative. The documentary gathers experts from multiple venues of the art world; artists, gallerists, journalists, even people who worked with Banksy. As such, the filmmakers were able to showcase various perspectives of his work.
Overall, this documentary is an excellent introduction into the world of Banksy. The film is likely to encourage people to seek out his work, which is the real benefit to an artist whose work is available to the public. I highly recommend watching this film in addition to Banksy’s movie Exit Through the Gift Shop to get the full scope of Banksy as an artist.
Banksy Most Wanted is officially selected for the Tribeca Film Festival’s Spotlight Documentary section.