Tendring district council removed this ironic Banksy graffiti from Clacton-on-Sea because of complaints over the racist slogans. That raises several questions:
Does the high regard in which Banksy is held encourage the defacement of buildings by thousands of talentless graffitists, and should he be treated simply as a vandal? Or is creative vandalism a special case?
Is he now held in high regard because of the high money value of his works and is he part of the artistic establishment?
Is it right to respond in this way to sincerely expressed feeling of offence? Does art justify offence? Is the outcry over the removal of this graffiti partly inspired by its money value?
Comments welcome, and more thoughts later.
PS. Banksy has created an entirely new quandary because his graffiti is worth more than the buildings it defaces. We have never seen that before. Contrast the vandalism of the Rothko painting in Tate Modern, which the vandals claimed was art: their graffiti was worthless, but the Rothko was valued in millions. If the vandalism is worth more than what’s vandalised, preserve it. If, not, punish the vandals.
I like Banksy, but let’s get him into proportion: he’s a witty political cartoonist.