Famed British artist Banksy's intricate, ornate and often-political art has captivated audiences the world over, and the masked artist has an Instagram account that's worth a look. To this day, Banksy's identity is not known, though some speculate that the artist could be either Robert Banks or Robin Gunningham. With more than a hint of activism, Banksy's work largely takes aim at issues like war, violence and greed. Yet in recent projects — perhaps the most grandiose of which was 2015's Dismaland, a dysfunctional, dark and somewhat disturbing theme park the artist built in the U.K. — Banksy's doleful sense of humor takes center stage.
And such is the case with the artist's Instagram account, which boasts some 715,000 followers.
The fact that the artist even has an Instagram account is kind of a big deal, considering his tendency to shroud himself in an air of mystery. "Banksy is not on Facebook, Twitter or represented by Steve Lazarides or any other commercial gallery," read a statement on the artist's website.
Here Are 9 Images That Prove Banksy is Always in on the Joke.
According to Biography.com, it's believed Banksy was born in Bristol, England, in 1974 and began his graffiti sometime in the early 1990s alongside a gang of street artists called the DryBreadZ Crew. Later on the artist relocated to London where he continued his work, and in 2013, Banksy took his act to New York City.
As Banksy continued to garner attention, his work began to rise in value and started to sell for huge amounts of money, which put the artist in a bit of a paradoxical situation. Can you really comment on issues like greed and capitalism while simultaneously profiting from the systems and institutions you criticize?
"I think it was easier when I was the underdog, and I had a lot of practice at it," Banksy said in an emailed statement to the New Yorker in 2007. "The money that my work fetches these days makes me a bit uncomfortable, but that's an easy problem to solve — you just stop whingeing and give it all away. I don't think it's possible to make art about world poverty and then trouser all the cash, that's an irony too far, even for me."
Yet even in his comments to the New Yorker, the artist's sense of humor was evident as ever, "I love the way capitalism finds a place — even for its enemies. It's definitely boom time in the discontent industry. I mean, how many cakes does Michael Moore get through?"
Despite the secrecy behind the artist's identity, Banksy invites fans or foes to send "questions, complaints and threats" to email@example.com. Question No. 1: Who are you?