In his rich and multi-genre artistic expression, there is some imagery which Banksy constantly repeats over the years. The criteria I applied for a recurring element is that it appears in more than five pieces.
- Rats. The rats entered Banksy’s catalogue around 2000, probably after moving to London.
- Cops: Rude Copper, Flying Copper, Avon and Summerset etc. Approx 30 motives with cops.
- Smileys. Used in at least 20 motives.
- CCTV. There are at least 20 motives with CCTV cameras.
- Birds. After rats, I would say that birds are the most common animal. Third is monkeys.
- Helicopters. More than 10 helicopters in the Banksy catalogue.
- Monkeys – loads of them.
- Grim Reaper: Banksy constantly reminds us that this guy will come knocking on our shoulders sooner or later.
- Animatronics. The Charcoal grill exhibition in New York in 2008 was based on animatronics.
- Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. Approx 15 pieces modelled on ancient sculptures
- Gas-masks. Approx. 10 motives with gas-masks.
- Goldfishes. At least 6 goldfishes, the majority in their goldfish bowl.
- Cocks. I found five motives with male genitals and only two female ones.
- Clowns. There are five different clowns
I might have missed some categories. Anyway, rarely have we seen an artist with so much interest in the animal kingdom. Rats, birds, monkeys, a few snakes and dogs but only one cat, and plenty of animatronics – there are hundreds of animals in the Banksy catalogue. Other even more surprising elements are the ancient sculptures, the gasmasks and the gold fish bowls. Lets’s illustrate with a few images from each category:
- Hundreds of rats, here are three of them:
2. Police: Here, Rude Copper, Happy Copper and the Met Ball from GDP
3. The smiley is ubiquitous in the Banksy imagery:
4. Plenty of CCTV in the catalogue:
5. Birds are another favorite animal:
6. The same type of helicopter appears in different environments:
8. Grim Reaper is another favourite:
9. Animatronics are soft animals with a small battery and an engine which makes them move. Probably more than 30 animatronics in the catalogue. Here are three from “Village Pet Store and The Charcoal Grill” in NY 2008.
10. There are at least 15 pieces where Banksy has used statues from antique Greece and Rome as a model. All of them are cast in a material called jesmonite.
11. Gas masks are another surprisingly frequent image:
12. Goldfishes – at least six motives. One can wonder where they come from?
13. There are at least six motives with male genitals in them, here are three: