Blockbuster street artist Banksy has laid claim to his latest work of public art — an olde tyme prison escape stenciled on the wall of the defunct HM Reading Prison in Reading, Berkshire, England. The prison, also known as Reading Gaol, was built in 1844 and operated until early 2014. Until this week, it was perhaps most famous for housing writer Oscar Wilde during a two-year imprisonment (1895-1897) after a conviction for “gross indecency.” Following his release, Wilde published The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a poem that narrates the 1896 hanging of Charles Thomas Woodridge, convicted of murdering his wife.
The Banksy mural features a figure in prison stripes and a cap. He appears to be climbing down the exterior brick wall on a rope ladder instead of a ream of paper, anchored by a typewriter. The image is likely an allusion to Wilde as Reading’s famous inmate and his subsequent poetic work that both documents Woodridge’s hanging while also identifying with him as a fellow prisoner.
The artist left his work open to speculation for a few days before taking to Instagram with a video documenting the mural’s clandestine application, with narration supplemented by overlay from Bob Ross’s famous public access painting program, The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. The audio selections first seem to merely narrate the creation of the mural, details of which are captured in the tight halo of the artist’s headlamp, but once we cut to shots of the mural in full view the following day, the audio clips telegraph the artist’s statement on the work.
“Painting, to me, represents freedom,” says Ross, as we watch our escaping inmate and take in the full scale of the wall meant to contain him. “I can create the kind of world that I want to see and that I want to be part of.”
A drone shot pans up and over the wall to show the empty prison yard with wire-topped fences.
“We just want to show you a technique and let you loose on the world,” says Ross. “Just absolutely let you loose on the world.” The video cuts to police officers encountering the mural.
“That really is the fun part of this whole technique,” Ross concludes.
What would it look like if museums turned their billions toward positive good instead of questionable investments simply for profit?
Patricio Guzmán combines reflection on the past, observation of the present, and hope for the future into an expansive vision of all the ideas he’s explored in his work.
Featuring over 70 installations and performances at the George Washington University’s historic Flagg Building, the Corcoran’s end-of-year showcase is now available for virtual viewing.
So closely do Disney’s animators assimilate the sensibility of French design that on occasion their source material appears almost more Disney than Disney itself.
The Grand Avenue Billboard Project enables artists like Karen Fiorito to publicly express their political views.
Artists reflect on histories of oppressive power structures in Brazil in this exhibition at the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
The museum opens to the public on October 8 with a 24-hour kickoff and a rebooted California Biennial.
The report estimates that 6.7 million Indigenous objects and human remains continue to be held in Canadian institutions, most of which do not have formal repatriation policies.
The Association of Art Museum Directors announced a shift in its longstanding policy, which restricted the use of funds from sales of art to new acquisitions only.
Martín Mobarak may have broken Mexican law, but he burned the proof.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very Los Angeles art events this month, including the Maya Codex of Mexico at the Getty, Beatrice Wood, Trenton Doyle Hancock, and more.