Banksy leaves his mark in tour of America
The street artist known as Banksy has completed a tour of North America, leaving a trail of humorous, anarchic and socially scathing graffiti which has been variously whitewashed by state authorities, admired by passers-by, vandalised by rivals and enthusiastically photographed by his fans.
Following the Sundance Film Festival premiere of his film Exit through the Gift Shop in January, which told the story of several street artists – including himself and Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant in Los Angeles – the artist took a tour through Canada and North America, leaving his graffiti art footprints wherever he went.
The tour follows a series of works created in San Francisco to coincide with the film's premiere, when five pieces appeared in the city. Last month, six new Banksy pieces appeared in Toronto and Ontario, although most were subsequently removed. One featured a businessman, briefcase in hand, with a sign around his neck which read: "0% interest in people."
Banksy also visited Detroit and left his mark in three places, one featuring a young boy holding a can of red paint next to the words: "I remember when all this was trees."
His work has most recently been spotted in Boston and New York. In the Chinatown district of Boston, one image shows a graffiti artist who has crossed out the words "follow your dreams", replacing them with the word "cancelled" in red paint.
A number of images have caused controversy. One piece attributed to him featured Osama bin Laden in view of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. Another depicted a rat with a shovel, apparently attempting to dig itself out of Alcatraz Island, the site of the former high-security prison.
The online graffiti community, many of whom have travelled to America to document the images as they appear and disappear, reported that "maintenance staff of the land owner [in Alcatraz] painted over the artwork".
Street artists have hailed Banksy's US tour as one of his most prolific periods on the streets for years. They welcomed the return of the small "Banksy rats" which he began stencilling early in his career, which have since become one of his trademarks.