Banksy Artwork as a Propaganda Muscle


Curator’s Statement on Banksy

Banksy  Artwork and Graffiti are highly used to send propaganda messages. Propaganda is mainly concerned with swaying people’s opinions through the use of arguments and suggestions. Various people including George W. Bush, Edward Barneys and Alexander the great have employed it in history. The growth of the mass media in the industrial revolution made it easier for people to use propaganda to reach members of the public. Advertising has changed from its initial intentions of being informative and is now persuasive. It has become a propaganda machine. There is still an ardent need to control the masses through using propaganda, particularly for political expediencies (Gaarth and Victoria 269).

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Banksy employs rodents as his motif. He also employs stencils in doing his works since they are efficient and take less time to complete a piece of art. Banksy uses graffiti to send his messages while another school of thought perceives it as disrespectful to public places and thus a form of vandalism. Banksy perceives it as being meaningful to the masses for it gives them the power to speak out on social injustices thereby leading them to stage revolutions. To Banksy, graffiti goes beyond the option of aesthetical gain and recognition. His creations ranged from physical prop pieces and museums to the outdoors. Apart from England, his pieces can be observed in other parts of the world. Often, texts composed of the iconography of people, pop culture, and animals compliment his works (Gaarth and Victoria 273).

Banksy‘s works that Proves He does It for Propaganda

Show Me the Monet

Show me the Monet, which came out on 11th September 2003, is one of Banksy’s popular paintings that have been used to spread propaganda. He invented a famous stunt in 2003 through hanging various subverted paintings of renowned pictures in his existing collection. In each scene, he inserted elements that were not to be placed there. Claude Monet had originally painted this in 1899. By doing this, Banksy objected to the insinuation that art is not a product of the audience. His intention is to influence people to stop being reactive and instead be active. Even though he invents the ideas, their execution is a preserve of his audiences (Banksy 16).

This kind of work defies authority, and can be done everywhere regardless of social status; all one needs is a spray can and some cut out model because the rest is left to imagination. Through this picture, Banksy portrays one of the underlying principles of propaganda; that it is critical for people to accept and own the ideology presented by the propagandist in order to espouse its beliefs and values. When he advocates for freedom, justice, and peace through these paintings, he agitates the masses into taking action (Gaarth and Victoria 277).

In this particular painting, he is pointing out the fact that people are not self aware about their real feelings and attitudes; hence, they rule out discussion. He goes on to question establishments and authorities for their failures. He also condemns advertising for disrespecting and manipulating the masses, while harassing them with its big unwarranted slogans. This is the reason why since his teenager years he has had the urge to illustrate awareness through expressing himself. He now realizes that it is feasible to leave a mark by using a wall and a spray can.


Who Sacked All the Clowns?

This picture painted by Banksy in 2003 displays a monkey as queen. This represented the myth of superiority and entitlement, which had been obtained through default rather than achievement. His message was that it was unfair to have a race where one person has this kind of privilege with the biased support from the majority. For this reason, people tend to give up by becoming part of the spectators. His use of monkeys signifies intelligence that can be harnessed to stage a revolution (Naar 12).

During Banksy’s upbringing, Britain was going through rapid unemployment that was as a result of the decline of the conventional manufacturing industry and the growth of the financial service sector. In the 60s and 80s, his neighborhood, Bristol, was facing racial problems. The riot in St Paul is one specific event that shaped his opinion as far as his attitude towards the police is concerned. The riot was sparked by social injustice and poverty conditions amongst ethnic minorities in his neighborhood (Gaarth and Victoria 280).

In the 80s, the graffiti movement started expanding from Philadelphia and New York all the way into the major cities. In March 1989, a critical event happened that led Banksy to come up with this graffiti. The British police executed the biggest anti Graffiti action in many years. After this incursion, several events influenced his work including the UK Monarch, the raising of Israel’s west bank, the Guantanamo bay Cuban complex, and the Iraq invasion.

Blur’s Think Tank Cover Art

In 2003, the Artist Blur produced his last album christened Think Tank. The painting featured Banksy’s spray painting on its cover. This ensured it had a wider exposure. The album had a positive reception in the USA and its cover was sold in 2007, which set a new auction record. Banksy’s messages have been relevant because of their effect on a selected target audience. Conventionally, graffiti acted as a tool of mass communication because it was usually generated in public places. As much as Banksy may have started as a crew member of a group that sprayed on walls, once his reputation started growing his audience also started changing. While exhibiting his stunts in national museums, he reached out to a more versed and educated audience. When he started going abroad, his artwork appealed beyond the local borders and activists showed interest in his art work. This is because he displayed images via different locations and subjects (Gaarth and Victoria 285).

Propaganda’s source is more often an organization with its leader as the propagandist. When Banksy started working alone, he hired a lawyer and a crew to assist him. His messages dramatically changed once he went on his own with his chosen team. He tackled wider goals and subjects in his quest for a revolution through activism.

Bethlehem 2005, Israel’s West Bank barrier

This is one of Banksy’s most renowned pieces stemming from its meaning and magnitude. The message depicted on his painting work on ‘Bethlehem’s’ Palestine wall is escape and freedom.’ He points out that an evaluation of the details is not significant; rather, the acknowledgement of the implantation of a semiotic code in the two pictures. The fact that the pictures share the semiotic code makes them related (Tufte 25).

To obtain effectiveness in persuading the public, Banksy uses symbols to create influence. Stencil graffiti entails the use of a cardboard and paper to generate images that can be easily reproduced. The images are curved into a surface and are printed by a spray can. He is motivated to use stencils because they easily generate a political message (Gaarth and Victoria 287).




It has been proven through Banksy’s work that an emotional appeal is created in his graffiti. It is also realized that he works to revise the attitudes and principals of his audiences, through his occasionally outrageous illustrations that attack people’s values generating conflict. Through his presentation of an opinion that people can easily identify with, he has crafted himself as an opinion leader. He effectively presents white propaganda since a social network and a perfect audience exists predisposed to his messages.







Works Cited

Banksy. Banging your head against a brick wall, Sage Publications: London. (2008): 16-20. Print.

Gaarth S. Jowet & Victoria O’Donnell. Propaganda and Persuasion, How to analyze propaganda. Sage Publications: California. (2006): 269-287. Print.

Naar John. The birth of Graffiti, In a war zone wide awake. Prestel Publishing: New York. (2007):12-15. Print.

Tufte Edward. Visual explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and narrative, Graphics Press: Connecticut (2010):25-27. Print


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