Street Art

50 Years After the 1968 Protests in France, Banksy Honors the History of Stencil Activism in Paris

June 28, 2018

"Fifty years since the uprising in Paris 1968. The birthplace of modern stencil art." So Banksy noted on his first updates from Paris this past week, as the British artist took to the streets of the French capital for his largest street campaign since he took over NYC for over 30 days in 2013. It would make sense the artist would celebrate the 50th anniversary of the massive student uprising in Paris in May-June, 1968, as not only did it spawn stencil art but it also was one of the centers of Situationist art and intervention.

In many ways, Banksy has been a Situationist artist, as he has long used the street for political theory, intervention and at times, anti-authority and anti-capitalistic values. The fact that this particular May 68 anniversary spoke to one of the most famous artists in the world, that within these protests there was graffiti and stencil art proclaiming a reclaiming of the streets for the people, is a great gesture from Banksy, who is highly aware of not only his fame and audience, but the origins of the art forms he practices today. From re-imaginging Jacques-Louis David's famous portrait of Napolean, to anti-Nazi immigration work (placed wonderfully next to a now-closed center for migrants on June 20, 2018, also known as World Refugee Day.) and even his famous Rats making a few humorous appearneces, there could be more works popping up on Banksy's feed in the coming days.

Photo on first page by PHILIPPE LOPEZ / AFP - Getty Images