New York City (AFP) – World-famous, reclusive artist Banksy is loose on the streets of New York, hosting a unique show that has whipped up excitement among hipsters and the chattering classes.
The England-based graffiti maestro, who has never been formally identified, has promised to unveil a new piece of art on each day of the month somewhere in the city.
His stencilled designs, known for their irreverent humor and political activism, have propelled him from a graffiti rebel to reluctant star whose work sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But the New York show is free, public and accessible to all.
Painted in secret and announced online, fans rush to track down the elusive piece before they are painted over or “tagged” by rival graffiti artists, often within hours of going viral.
And the name of the show? “Better Out Than In”.
“It’s just so intriguing, it’s like a chase,” says actor Lisa Rowe-Beddoe, who has visited each of Banksy’s three pieces to date. Her mission is to track down the full set by the end of October.
The New York show has an Instagram account, which already has around 30,000 followers. The website posts photographs of the work and @banksyny posts cryptic messages on Twitter.
“There’s something just brilliant about Banksy. He’s just so original,” says Rowe-Beddoe. “It’s interactive. It’s cool, plus he says cool things.”
The latest piece — a black dog urinating on a hydrant with the words “You complete me” in a speech bubble and the caption “a shoulder to crayon” — attracted a huge crowd on Thursday.
Teenagers, artists, and professionals gathered to chat, joke and snap pictures on their cell phones — posing for the camera as they crouched down and pretended to stroke the dog.
“It’s a buzz,” says Ken Brown, who writes a blog about street culture as he takes pictures of the crowd. “And because he’s so well known, it’ll be a boon to New York”.