Banksy is a well-known pseudo-anonymous British graffiti artist. He is believed to be from Bristol and to have been born in 1974, but there is substantial public uncertainty about his identity and personal and biographical details. According to Tristan Manco, Banksy "was born in 1974 and raised in Bristol, England. The son of a photocopier engineer, he trained as a butcher but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s." His artworks are often-satirical pieces of art on topics such as politics, culture, and ethics. His street art, which combines graffiti writing with a distinctive stencilling technique, is similar to Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris and members of the anarcho-punk band Crass who maintained a graffiti stencil campaign on the London Tube System in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His art has appeared in cities around the world. Banksy's work was born out of the Bristol underground scene which involved collaborations between artists and musicians.
In addition to his artwork, Banksy has claimed responsibility for a number of high profile art pieces, including the following:
* At London Zoo, he climbed into the penguin enclosure and painted "We're bored of fish" in seven foot high letters.
* At Bristol Zoo, he left the message 'I want out. This place is too cold. Keeper smells. Boring, boring, boring.' in the elephant enclosure.
* In March 2005, he placed subverted artworks in the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
* He put up a subverted painting in London's Tate Britain gallery.
* In May 2005 Banksy's version of a primitive cave painting depicting a human figure hunting wildlife whilst pushing a shopping trolley was hung in gallery 49 of the British Museum, London. Upon discovery, they added it to their permanent collection.
* Banksy has sprayed "This is not a photo opportunity" on certain photograph spots.
* In August 2005, Banksy painted nine images on the Israeli West Bank barrier, including an image of a ladder going up and over the wall and an image of children digging a hole through the wall.
* In April 2006, Banksy created a sculpture based on a crumpled red phone box with a pickaxe in its side, apparently bleeding, and placed it in a street in Soho, London. It was later removed by Westminster Council. BT released a press release, which said: "This is a stunning visual comment on BT's transformation from an old-fashioned telecommunications company into a modern communications services provider."
* In June 2006, Banksy created an image of a naked man hanging out of a bedroom window on a wall in central Bristol. The image sparked some controversy, with the Bristol City Council leaving it up to the public to decide whether it should stay or go. After an internet discussion in which 97% (all but 6 people) supported the stencil, the city council decided it would be left on the building.
* In August/September 2006, Banksy replaced up to 500 copies of Paris Hilton's debut CD, Paris, in 48 different UK record stores with his own cover art and remixes by Danger Mouse. Music tracks were given titles such as "Why am I Famous?", "What Have I Done?" and "What Am I For?". Several copies of the CD were purchased by the public before stores were able to remove them, some going on to be sold for as much as £750 on online auction websites such as eBay. The cover art depicted Paris Hilton digitally altered to appear topless. Other pictures feature her with a dog's head replacing her own, and one of her stepping out of a luxury car, edited to include a group of homeless people, which included the caption "90% of success is just showing up".
* In September 2006, Banksy dressed an inflatable doll in the manner of a Guantanamo Bay detainment camp prisoner (orange jumpsuit, black hood, and handcuffs) and then placed the figure within the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California. More recently his work has appeared on Melrose.