Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter. His works are satirical pieces on topics such as politics, culture and ethics. His street art is a combination of graffiti; distinctive stenciling technique and irreverent dark humour that have appeared in cities all around the world. Banksy's true identity is remains unknown. His work was born out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. Observers have noted that his style is similar to Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris and members of the anarcho-punk band Crass, which maintained a graffiti stencil campaign on the London Tube System in the late 1970s and early 1980s and is active today. However Banksy himself stated on his website that in all actuality he based his work on that of 3D from the band Massive Attack, stating, "No, I copied 3D from Massive Attack. He can actually draw."
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Banksy does not sell photos of street graffiti directly himself; however, art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street art on location and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the winning bidder. Banksy's first film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, billed as "the world's first street art disaster movie," made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film was released in the UK on 5 March 2010. In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for the film. In 2014, he was awarded Person of the Year at the 2014 Webby Awards.
While some view Banksy’s work as providing a voice to people living in the urban environment, others see it as vandalism. He has placed subverted pieces of his own in museums such as The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, London's Tate gallery, The Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum and the Louvre.
Banksy has self published several books and continues to create unique and controversial pieces. His work remains popular among auction houses and contemporary art galleries around the world.