Banksy’s Irreverent Works Highlight New NYC Show

Banksy is back in New York City—well, at least his art has.

The famously mysterious British street artist’s works are being displayed in a new “unauthorized” show in the Big Apple, titled Banksy in New York City: Defaced. It’s a tribute to his month-long residency from October 2013 when he created one work each day day in different parts of the city, including in the outer boroughs.

The Defaced exhibit in Lower Manhattan—which opened Thursday and will run through May–showcases more than 80 of Banksy’s works from his three-decade career, including silkscreen prints and other objects. Among them are the famous “Girl With Balloon” off of his stencil series; the sculpture “Mickey Snake”; and “Jack and Jill (Police Kids),” a silkscreen that depicts two happy children wearing bulletproof vests.

During the 2013 residency, Banksy’s guerilla art—which consisted of stencils, temporary installations, and even a truck of stuffed animals—attracted fascination from New Yorkers and irritation from then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said: “Graffiti does ruin people’s property and is a sign of decay and a loss of control…Nobody’s a bigger supporter of the arts than I am. I just think there are some places for art and some places where — no art.” (The residency was the subject of the 2014 documentary Banksy Does New York).

“The official art world looked skeptically at Banksy’s NYC residency,” according to the Defaced website, “but the people on the street sided with Banksy’s idea of taking art out of the museum and bringing it into the public space. ‘Better Out Than In’ was his motto.”

The common thread that runs through Banksy’s art—and especially in Defaced, which was organized by MetaMorfosi NY—is punkish irreverence, whether it’s depicting the hitmen from the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction (played by John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson) holding bananas instead of guns; a smiling Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald joining hands with the ‘Napalm girl’ from Nick Ut’s 1972 iconic photo; and two soldiers surreptitiously painting a peace symbol on a wall. Taken altogether, Banksy’s provocative and poignant works address universal issues such as war, antiauthoritarianism and commercialism.

Defaced is billed as an “unauthorized exhibit.” But according to a press release, “the catalog of works has been submitted and revised by Pest Control Office [the ‘parent/legal guardian for the artist Banksy’] for accuracy and authentication.”

The show is at 378 Broadway (on the corner of Broadway and White Street), Tuesdays-Thursday 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Fridays-Sundays 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Ticket prices start at $16.50. For more information, visit the show’s website.

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