21st Century and Contemporary British Modern Paintings
21st Century and Contemporary British Modern Paintings
Banksy Biography and Important Works
Of the numerous feats that Banksy has accomplished over the course of his career as an international artist, activist and filmmaker, perhaps the most astonishing is that while he is among the most famous figures in street art, he has managed to remain completely anonymous.
There is a method behind the madness, however. Banksy maintains that he chooses to conceal his identity to make a more democratic impact with his work, the themes of which include criticism of world leaders, consumerism and terrorism.
Although not much is known about Banksy — he sent a photo of himself with a paper bag on his head to Time magazine for a profile — it is believed that he was born in the city of Bristol, in southwest England, circa 1974. Wit, irreverence, dark humor and activism come together in his work, which spans graffiti, paintings, prints, sculptures and filmmaking. (His film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which focuses on another street artist known as Mr. Brainwash, was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2010 Academy Awards.)
Banksy began as a graffiti artist in his hometown in the early 1990s. He has found fame for his stenciled and spray-painted pieces, which are most often rooted in anti-war or antiestablishment messaging, appearing in cities such as London, New York and Los Angeles and for his “stunts” that are intended to subvert and provoke the art world. One particularly memorable stunt took place in 2018, when, as soon as one of his paintings sold at auction — Girl with a Balloon, which fetched an extraordinary $1.4 million — it self-destructed and proceeded to partially shred itself. Banksy even snuck into the Louvre and hung his own version of the Mona Lisa in 2006. Despite his elusive persona and commitment to bringing art to the masses, Banksy is one of the most coveted artists at auctions across the world.
And his work is undeniably impactful.
At a record-breaking auction organized by Damien Hirst, Bono and others to benefit AIDS charities in 2008, Banksy’s Keep It Spotless — a modified Hirst painting — fetched nearly $2 million. In May of 2020, Banksy donated Game Changer, a painting that honors UK healthcare workers, to Southampton General Hospital. When it went to auction in 2021, it sold for more than $23 million at Christie's in London. All proceeds went to the National Health Service.
Find original Banksy art for sale on 1stDibs.
A Close Look at Modern Furniture
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw sweeping social change and major scientific advances — both of which contributed to a new aesthetic: modernism. Rejecting the rigidity of Victorian artistic conventions, modernists sought a new means of expression. References to the natural world and ornate classical embellishments gave way to the sleek simplicity of the Machine Age. Architect Philip Johnson characterized the hallmarks of modernism as “machine-like simplicity, smoothness or surface [and] avoidance of ornament.”
Followers of both groups produced sleek, spare designs — many of which became icons of daily life in the 20th century. The modernists rejected both natural and historical references and relied primarily on industrial materials such as metal, glass, plywood, and, later, plastics. While Bauhaus principals Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe created furniture from mass-produced, chrome-plated steel, American visionaries like Charles and Ray Eames worked in materials as novel as molded plywood and fiberglass. Today, Breuer’s Wassily chair, Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair — crafted with his romantic partner, designer Lilly Reich — and the Eames lounge chair are emblems of progressive design and vintage originals are prized cornerstones of collections.
It’s difficult to overstate the influence that modernism continues to wield over designers and architects — and equally difficult to overstate how revolutionary it was when it first appeared a century ago. But because modernist furniture designs are so simple, they can blend in seamlessly with just about any type of décor. Don’t overlook them.
Finding the Right Folk Art for You
Folk art refers to a genre of art that shares the creator’s traditions, offering not just an artistic display but an opportunity to learn about a culture. Vintage, new and antique folk art typically reflects a heritage or location. It can include utilitarian objects and handmade art as diverse as weather vanes, portraiture and paintings, carnival art, quilts and duck decoys.
American folk art is frequently valued because of the traditional skills involved, like weaving, hand-carving wood and even stonework. Many folk artists are self-taught, while some train as apprentices within their community. By using available materials and taking a personal approach to their creations, artists ensure each piece is unique and conveys a story. Native American folk art includes functional objects reflecting their heritage, such as baskets, textiles and wooden pieces.
During the Great Depression, artistic materials in America were hard to come by, so artisans used discarded wood from cigar boxes and shipping crates to make highly stylized, notched pieces — most often picture frames and boxes — that are today sought after by collectors. This folk art style is called tramp art and was popular from roughly 1870 until the 1940s.
Folk art brings vibrant culture and traditions into your home. Browse an extensive collection of folk art on 1stDibs.