By london_will Last edited 214 months ago

Opinions at Londonist are divided about "street artist" Banksy. Many contributors here have a very high opinion of the man and his work. This Londonista does not. However, considering the views of my colleagues and the fact that the publisher of this website is behind, so we know what he likes, I'll tread as delicately as possible.

Here's the short version for everyone who thinks that Banksy is, without question, fab and cool and edgy and counter-cultural and sticking it to The Man: he's publishing a book. Here is what the Guardian Newsblog has to say about it. Go and buy it and put it next to your Eboy poster and ironic U2 special edition iPod. You'll probably be able to find it in the Tate Modern Bookshop and branches of Magma near you. It will probably cost about £18.99.

Go now. Now. Go on.

OK, for the rest of you: how very edgy, counter-cultural, political and cool. A coffee table book designed to make it onto every anti-globalist's Christmas list published by Random House, a division of German company AG Bertelsman, the largest book publisher in the world. First Banksy invented the idea of wittily juxtaposing iconic images to make a powerful statement - except that idea has been around for decades and beyond its undoubted wit and technical merit there's little special about Banksy's stuff. Oh, its ubiquity, that's special. Good positioning for the Banksy "brand" - should shift a few books. Of course, he doesn't advertise.

Second, Banksy brought art to people who don't go to galleries by, er, slipping his work into galleries. And of course, having exhibitions devoted to his work.

Thirdly, he brilliantly subverting the global corporate machine by allowing his art to be used in the game Counter Strike. Counter Strike, an anti-war game about settling your differences non-violently and understanding the socioeconomic and cultural roots of terrorism, is published by IGN Entertainment, a division of Fox Interactive, proprietor Rupert Murdoch. Peace out, man. That'll show the pigs. Similarly, his art appeared on the cover of a Blur album, published by Parlophone, a division of EMI Group, the world's largest music publisher. Fight the power!

And now he's subverting the whole idea of cashing in, turning bourgeois notions of making a quick buck on their heads and smashing complacent middle-class attitudes to selling out by publishing a lovely glossy book. (£18.99ishprobably, from the posher branches of Borders and the gift shop at the White Cube.)

But let's consider the words of the artist and political philosopher himself:

"The time of getting fame for your name on its own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Any fame is a by-product of making something that means something. You don't go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit."

So he accidentally achieved notoriety as a mere side-effect of innocently plastering his work all over every wall in London. That's OK then. Here we were thinking he was an obnoxious overhyped boring self publicist.

Of course, that's just my opinion.

Last Updated 30 November 2005