Katrina, 3 years later: Banksy throughout New Orleans.

Jonno D'Addario says:

Over the past few days, Banksy street pieces have been appearing around New Orleans. This one is in my neighborhood, and the timing seems to coincide with the third anniversary of you-know-what this week.

Someone else took a photo of this one in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. It references a local (in)famous anti-graffiti crusader named Fred Radtke, aka "The Grey Ghost", whose one man mission to eradicate street art and tagging in NO involves painting ugly grey squares over everything. (Lots more on him via Google)

More photos from Flickr user anthonyturducken, still more here from Jonno's Flickr stream, and a gallery on Sky.com.


  1. I’m not an expert by any means but I’ve seen a lot of Banksys in the flesh and if these aren’t him, then the best imitator so far has emerged. Authority figures behaving in ways you wouldn’t expect is very Banksy, and the gasmasks on the bandsmen too is very him for reasons I’m struggling to articulate. They’re also technically accomplished and as entertaining as The Ramones. I’d put money on these being by Banksy and, if they’re not, hats off to whoever.

  2. Nice. I finally managed to figure out how to make a damn HTML link out of Banksy’s name, and then I typo’d it!


  3. I corrected it for ya:

    Someone else took a photo of this one in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. It references a conscientious anti-graffiti crusader named Fred Radtke, aka “The Grey Ghost”, whose one man mission to eradicate graffiti and tagging in NO involves painting ugly grey squares over uglier graffiti.”

    That being said, Banksy is definitely a creative artist, its a shame he does it on someone else’s property.

    And yes, I have a right to bitch. I’ve had to remove graffiti AKA “tags” and “street art” 3x this year from my building.

    And furthermore, get off my lawn. :-)

  4. What’s the meaning behind the soldiers looting electronics? As far as I know, common knowledge is that the National Guard did nothing of the sort down there.

  5. Yannish – I’d agree that a lot of graffiti is of pretty low quality, an eyesore and little more than vandalism. But if you get a Banksy piece on the side of your building, it’ll do nothing but up the value of the property and probably attract people to the area. If Banksy painted something on your building and you covered it with grey paint, you’d kick yourself later when you found out how much his art is worth. I’ve read about people literally cutting their walls apart to be able to sell his art, or putting steel plates over top of it to prevent anti-graffiti types from painting over them. Whether removing his work from its original setting is any better than painting over it or not, there’s no arguing how much the stuff sells for.

  6. Bansky or not, these are amazing. Nice to see more social commentary street art nowadays especially considering the place and anniversary. Thanks for posting!

  7. I think New Orleans has been through entirely enough without some British vandal with serious entitlement issues and a massive savior complex swooping in and fouling up the landscape further for his own self-aggrandizement.

  8. I don’t know about National Guard troops looting New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, But at the time I heard and read numerous reports of Blackwater troops doing so.

  9. @Yannish

    There is a difference between street art and tagging.

    A completed piece of street art will always look better than some delinquent kids spraying up a tag or the gang members that use symbols to mark their territory. People that just deface property for personal entertainment aren’t artists and shouldn’t be considered such.

  10. it’s simple: street art should be respected and taggers should have their right hand struck off.

  11. But like all art.. who are you to say what is and isn’t.

    You cannot know the motivation behind what you have dubbed a “tag”. So it’s unsightly, or annoys you? So does lots of art.

    I know it seems simple to see the difference, but if you want to give license to one person and not another (based on aesthetics) you are going to run into problems.

    Recently (in the last two months) the DPM crew in London got ratted out and charged. Some of the guys (not even the most prolific) got 18 months actual prison time. Meanwhile Banksy’s work gets preserved by the same councils – with an eye on the money Banksy has made at auction.

    Now, you can presume all you like about the difference between their work (and I’m not suggersting DPM only tag), but it doesn’t validate the difference between: “have money and fame” OR “go to prison for 18 months”.

    The FACT is lots of street artists are ALSO taggers. And you will never know who is who.

  12. a “tag” is an endlessly repeated, poorly and hastily sprayed sigil that has no other purpose than to shriek “look at me! look at me!”

  13. “I think New Orleans has been through entirely enough without some British vandal with serious entitlement issues and a massive savior complex swooping in and fouling up the landscape further for his own self-aggrandizement.”

    This New Orleanian is pretty damn stoked to have witnessed two of the pieces (so far). I’ll take cool art over hurricanes and cynicism any day.

  14. I actually had a great dream last night where a composite ex-girlfriend in the underground tunnels of dreamworld Reed College revealed to me that she was, in fact, Banksy, and proceeded to recruit me for worldwide underground graffiti adventures. Then I saw this on BB today and my brain blew up.

    Expect to hear from my lawyers.

  15. And if you’re really smart, this is the only place you should be seeing this. Even if you live in New Orleans. Especially if you live in New Orleans.

    “It’s time to leave New Orleans” because Gustav’s going to be Category 3, and those “Category 3” levees that aren’t yet stable.

  16. more and more, banksy is becoming my living art-hero. (look out paul laffoley and alex grey!) senor costello, i couldn’t agree more! for the most part tagging is just pissing on the wall to mark some turf. there are some exceptions to the rule, tho. banksy rules!

  17. #17 Maybe Tak, but if you cut the right hand off all the taggers, you will surely miss the portion of art that those hands would have, otherwise, created.

  18. As an Anthropologist, I love seeing both tags and graffiti as remnants of civilizations.

    From cave walls to toilet stalls
    Across the keenest ivy League halls
    Graffiti marks a cultural crawl,
    and if you don’t like it
    you can suck my balls.


  19. I’m a traditional artist and I don’t see why everyone has such a cow over tagging. Some text-type tags are no less complex in form than the arabic carvings on the Taj Mahal. It might not be ASKED for, but there it is.

  20. Dogs ”tag.” So do most lesser animals. It’s turf thing. Lot of wall pissing going on in my town. Lot of animals.

  21. What exactly constitutes a “lesser animal?”

    Also, putting a fence around your house is a “turf thing”…

    I guess animals are better kept behind fences.

  22. I just hate to see when people tag on top of a cool mural or other spray paint art. When it’s just a scribble on top of everything from parking meters to pay phones it’s pretty annoying too. If you get creative with it, great. Tag all you like, if you must, but do it on a clean stretch of wall, not someone else’s art. Otherwise it says as much as dogs do on walkies. -My 2 cents, adjusted for inflation.

  23. Posting as anon to help my Aunt.

    Banksy and his crew stayed at her place in NOLA, and she’s trying to get some of the owners of buildings to keep them from being grey ghost’ed.
    And Steven (#10) you would be happy to hear that they left her place a fraking mess.

  24. Look at this image on Banksy’s site. Ignoring his piece, look at the red “tag” on the side of the wall.

    Now look at the billboard. You know, the one with the massive picture of a smirking lawyer, with his name in huge letters and a self-aggrandizing slogan. Which do you find more tasteless? More annoying? More artistic?

    Personally, I’d say the billboard, but maybe they’re about the same, depending on who you ask. The point thought is that one of them is sanctioned and completely socially acceptable. Nobody would ever consider censoring or regulating billboards on the basis of their artistic merit. But when it comes to graffiti, people seem to think they have that right. This can only derive from a notion that the right to public expression is not inherent: it must be purchased, and those who cannot afford this right have an obligation to make their expressions specially and unusually wonderful or suffer punishment.

  25. W/r/t New Orleans, the National Guard did loot a tiny bit, or at least a few were held responsible for taking guns and momentos. It was the local police who occasionally joined in the looting (see YouTube for a funny example of looting in Wal-Mart by cops).

    I’m probably not the only New Orleanian who is happy to see that Banksy paid us a visit. Unfortunately, I can’t track down any of the locations since we’re evacuating for another storm. Does anybody know the cross streets? At least one is on St. Claude, which will probably be underwater in a few days.

  26. @Rexy, #35: I don’t think Banksy does prints, just walls. Lots of little shops on that border between art gallery and poster shop are selling Banksy prints, presumably on the basis that they’re de facto in the public domain. (At any rate I’m not aware that he’s ever taken action for copyright infringement.) He was, however, involved in the production of some palm-sized 50pp paperbacks – I picked mine up on the counter of my favourite London comics shop. He’s also published “Wall and Piece” which is a more coffee-table friendly hardback tome with the fancy designer paper & finishes and that.

    That Wunderground satellite image of the Gulf posted by anonymous is looking scarier every time I look at it. Good luck to any BBers in southern Louisiana tonight, and may an invisible noodly appendage be there for you :/

  27. Picasso reportedly “muraled” the inside walls of a young couple’s house while they were honeymooning; it was a surprise wedding present and they were of course delighted. So was their landlord, who tried to evict them and sell the house. He had “tagged” all the rooms with maidens, fauns, dragons, mounted knights, and such. Such vandalism!

  28. I live near New Orleans, and I really need some help finding his works. I recently became a huge fan of his, but I have no clue where to start looking for him. If anyone can help me out as to where to start looking, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks in advance! =)

  29. #45 you’re a little late in the game unfortunately, many works have already been painted over or the ones that were on wood got stolen. I heard the building with the Abe Lincoln caught on fire and is going to get torn down, just heard that, so not sure it’s true. I’ve seen many of the ones that were painted over before and after…… so sad. He gave New Orleans and the 9th Ward such an amazing gift and people were so quick to destroy it.

  30. has anyone seen the portrait of the man with sunglasses on the side of the abandoned gert town pool? it looks like it may be banksy also. (2 blocks off washington ave. near Xavier University)

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