New York City, various locations
The artist Banksy has treated New Yorkers to “a sort of scavenger hunt” these past few weeks, said The New York Times in an editorial. Each day in October, another work of graffiti by the celebrated but anonymous British street jester has popped up in some odd corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, and the city’s residents have responded with “a characteristic, if not uniformly warm, welcome.” Sure, there have been plenty of admirers tracking his exploits on social media and racing to each site to snap pictures. But the artist’s first New York stencil this month—showing a street urchin holding a spray-paint can—was defaced within hours and painted over in a day. One local graffitist obliterated a Banksy image of a heart-shaped balloon even while a Brooklyn crowd watched and booed. Elsewhere in the same borough, two sidewalk entrepreneurs used a piece of cardboard to cover a fresh Banksy, vowing to charge anyone who came to photograph it. “Welcome to New York, Banksy!”
“Not to be a spoilsport, but to me Banksy is mostly uninteresting,” said Jerry Saltz in NYMag.com. He has “brought panache and professionalism to graffiti” over the past two-plus decades, but while his brand of soft-serve anarchy now fetches huge sums when his work is auctioned, it does little to shake up people’s perceptions. Intentionally or not, one of Banksy’s New York stunts offers a pointed criticism of his own work, said Isabel Wilkinson in TheDailyBeast.com. For one day, an old man sat at a table outside Central Park selling signed Banksy canvases for just $60 a pop. The fact that almost no one bought any raises a question: “If we can pass by his work on a street corner and not even bat an eyelash,” how good can it be?