Banksy’s 11 Most Complicated Works

1. Mobile Waterfall Truck

BanksyNY

While Banksy is best known for his stencil-based, spray-painted wall pieces, the artist has continually mixed things up over the years, and he’s taken some big risks with different pieces. One of the first pieces of the “Better Out Than In” show also seems to be one of the most complicated, at least technically speaking, considering it involves a fully working waterfall that travels around the city in the back of a delivery truck. So far, it’s one of two moving trucks (and, yes, he’s even added his touch to stationary vehicles) that Banksy has included in this latest set of works, but its working water and over-the-top whimsy make it feel far more complicated than his cute/disturbing slaughterhouse truck, packed to the gills with mooing and cooing stuffed animals.

2. The Elephant in the Room

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When Banksy hit Los Angeles back in 2006 for his first U.S. exhibition, he brought along traditional works, large-scale pieces, and a literal elephant to fill a room. While it may have been amusing that Banksy titled his showing “Barely Legal,” it wasn’t so funny when U.S. officials deemed his painting of an actual, live elephant named Tai, done up in pink and gold paint to match the wallpaper of a room set-up, actually broke the law: Banksy had the proper permits to include Tai in the exhibition, but painting the pachyderm from trunk to toe was illegal (and quite time-consuming to complete in the first place).

3. Going to the Zoo

Zoochat

Plenty of Banksy pieces have been destroyed or removed, but two of his most ballsy are so hard to find pictures of that they seem more like myth than reality. Those two pieces—some of Banksy’s most dangerous, reckless, and illegal works—briefly had homes at the London Zoo and the Bristol Zoo. In animal enclosures. Which Banksy climbed into in order to tag them. We said “dangerous,” right? The London Zoo penguin enclosure was once home to swimming birds and 7-foot-high letters that read, “We’re bored of fish.” At Bristol, Banksy took to the elephant enclosure to write, "I want out. This place is too cold. Keeper smells. Boring, boring, boring” on a wall. 

4. The West Bank

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In the late summer of 2005, Banksy took to the Israeli West Bank barrier to paint a staggering nine pieces on the wall that separates the country from the landlocked Palestinian territories. Banksy’s work on the Palestinian side is remarkable (and remarkably complicated) for a number of reasons: it’s a politically volatile area that is constantly patrolled, Banksy’s works there are massive, and the pieces all come with a very political bent (and a paradise-seeking theme). While the wall is home to plenty of other protest graffiti, Banksy’s work remains the most well known.   

5. The Phone Box

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When Banksy goes large-scale, he really goes large-scale. In 2006, the artist made a sculpture based on a classic red London phone box (paging Dr. Who), crumpled the thing up, rammed a pickaxe through it, made it look as if it was bleeding, and left it on a side street in the busy Soho section of London. How did he do it? How did no one see? How do you make a phone box sculpture? Who knows? 

6. Guantanamo Bay Comes to Disneyland

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Banksy’s work has always come with political bite, but he took a real chomp out of international politics with a stunt he pulled at Disneyland back in September 2006. The artist snuck in an inflatable doll dressed like a Guantanamo Bay detainment camp prisoner (complete with an orange jumpsuit, black hood, and handcuffs), and then managed to blow up the thing and place it within the confines of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride. The piece stayed up for over an hour, until the ride had to be shut down to remove it. Most people can’t even sneak outside drinks into Disneyland.

7. One Nation Under CCTV

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Perhaps one of Banksy’s most recognizable pieces (though it’s since been removed), the artist took to a large London wall back in April of 2008 to paint his then-biggest work. A commentary on the UK’s widespread use of CCTV cameras to watch its populace, the building-sized piece read “ONE NATION UNDER CCTV,” and featured a depiction of both a child-sized artist and a watchful security guard. The amazing part? Banksy had to scale a wall and erect scaffolding to paint the artwork—located right next to those omnipresent CCTV cameras, which failed to capture the artist. 

8. Artworks in the Museum, New York Edition

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In March of 2005, Banksy subverted the traditional means of getting his artwork into famous museums—he just posted them up himself. He hit four of New York City’s biggest art meccas—the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Brooklyn Museum—mounting up new pieces at each. Most of the pieces stayed up for an entire day before officials noticed that anything was amiss, even as museum patrons eyeballed works they knew weren’t exactly right.

9. Artworks in the Museum, London Edition

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Later that same year, Banksy took his museum-trolling gig back to London, turning his stunts in gallery 49 of the British Museum. There, he posted his version of a cave painting (a primitive hunter, pushing a shopping cart), complete with descriptive placard. Again, the artist added his own work to a famous museum without notice, and the piece stayed up for days. 

10. The Bristol Exhibition

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Four years later, Banksy launched his biggest museum hoax to date—though his exhibition at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery was actually sanctioned and commissioned by the museum. Still, only two officials knew about the installation, and Banksy and his team hit the space in the middle of the night to replace other artworks with a hundred of his own—from a massive truck installation to classic stencils, all the way down to a small, kitted out mouse placed in the museum’s natural history section.

11. Exit Through the Gift Shop

While plenty of artists have made the leap from graphic arts to the big screen, Banksy’s unique film Exit Through the Gift Shop is an exceedingly bold, wacky, and complicated endeavor that stands out amongst its brethren. Sure, the film picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature, but the tale of French street artist Thierry Guetta (aka Mr. Brainwash) and his wild ascent to the top tier of his profession is wickedly fun, possibly fake, and perhaps the best insight into who Banksy is yet. The artist reportedly spent a year on editing alone, forced to sift through nearly 10,000 hours of footage shot by Guetta (most of it proving unusable). Of course, that seems complicated and hard enough—but when you consider the widely circulating theory that Banksy himself is Mr. Brainwash, the film itself seems like a bit of a miracle.

 

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John MacDougall, Getty Images
Stolpersteine: One Artist's International Memorial to the Holocaust
John MacDougall, Getty Images
John MacDougall, Getty Images

The most startling memorial to victims of the Holocaust may also be the easiest to miss. Embedded in the sidewalks of more than 20 countries, more than 60,000 Stolpersteine—German for “stumbling stones”—mark the spots where victims last resided before they were forced to leave their homes. The modest, nearly 4-by-4-inch brass blocks, each the size of a single cobblestone, are planted outside the doorways of row houses, bakeries, and coffee houses. Each tells a simple yet chilling story: A person lived here. This is what happened to them.

Here lived Hugo Lippers
Born 1878
Arrested 11/9/1938 — Altstrelitzer prison
Deported 1942 Auschwitz
Murdered

The project is the brainchild of the German artist Gunter Demnig, who first had the idea in the early 1990s as he studied the Nazis' deportation of Sinti and Roma people. His first installations were guerrilla artwork: According to Reuters, Demnig laid his first 41 blocks in Berlin without official approval. The city, however, soon endorsed the idea and granted him permission to install more. Today, Berlin has more than 5000.

Demnig lays a Stolpersteine.
Artist Gunter Demnig lays a Stolpersteine outside a residence in Hamburg, Germany in 2012.
Patrick Lux, Getty Images

The Stolpersteine are unique in their individuality. Too often, the millions of Holocaust victims are spoken of as a nameless mass. And while the powerful memorials and museums in places such as Berlin and Washington, D.C. are an antidote to that, the Stolpersteine are special—they are decentralized, integrated into everyday life. You can walk down a sidewalk, look down, and suddenly find yourself standing where a person's life changed. History becomes unavoidably present.

That's because, unlike gravestones, the stumbling stones mark an important date between a person’s birth and death: the day that person was forced to abandon his or her home. As a result, not every stumbling stone is dedicated to a person who was murdered. Some plaques commemorate people who fled Europe and survived. Others honor people who were deported but managed to escape. The plaques aim to memorialize the moment a person’s life was irrevocably changed—no matter how it ended.

The ordinariness of the surrounding landscape—a buzzing cafe, a quaint bookstore, a tree-lined street—only heightens that effect. As David Crew writes for Not Even Past, “[Demnig] thought the stones would encourage ordinary citizens to realize that Nazi persecution and terror had begun on their very doorsteps."

A man in a shop holding a hammer making a Stolpersteine.
Artisan Michael Friedrichs-Friedlaender hammers inscriptions into the brass plaques at the Stolpersteine manufacturing studio in Berlin.
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

While Demnig installs every single Stolpersteine himself, he does not work alone. His project, which stretches from Germany to Brazil, relies on the research of hundreds of outside volunteers. Their efforts have not only helped Demnig create a striking memorial, but have also helped historians better document the lives of individuals who will never be forgotten.

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Evening Standard/Stringer, Getty Images
60 Years Later, a Lost Stanley Kubrick Script Has Been Found
Evening Standard/Stringer, Getty Images
Evening Standard/Stringer, Getty Images

A “lost” screenplay co-written by famed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick has been found after 60 years, Vulture reports.

The screenplay is an adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s novella Burning Secret, which Vulture describes as a reverse Lolita (plot summary for those who forgot high school English class: a man enters a relationship with a woman because of his obsession with her 12-year-old daughter). In Burning Secret, a man befriends an adolescent boy in order to seduce his mother. Zweig’s other works have inspired films like Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (which the director claims he "stole" from Zweig's novels Beware of Pity and The Post-Office Girl).

Kubrick’s screenplay adaptation is co-written by novelist Calder Willingham and dated October 24, 1956. Although the screenplay bears a stamp from MGM’s screenwriting department, Nathan Abrams—the Bangor University professor who discovered the script—thinks it’s likely the studio found it too risqué for mass audiences.

“The child acts as an unwitting go-between for his mother and her would-be lover, making for a disturbing story with sexuality and child abuse churning beneath its surface,” Abrams told The Guardian. It's worth noting, however, that Kubrick directed an adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in 1962, which MGM distributed, and it was also met with a fair share of controversy.

Abrams said the screenplay for Burning Secret is complete enough that it could be created by filmmakers today. He noted that the discovery is particularly exciting because it confirms speculations Kubrick scholars have had for decades.

“Kubrick aficionados knew he wanted to do it, [but] no one ever thought it was completed,” Abrams told The Guardian.

The Guardian reports that Abrams found the screenplay while researching his book Eyes Wide Shut: Stanley Kubrick and the Making of His Final Film. The screenplay is owned by the family of one of Kubrick’s colleagues.

[h/t Vulture]

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