Banksy, mysterious British street artist, targets New York City


(CBS News) The graffiti artist known as Banksy is setting his sights on New York City. For more than a decade, he has painted without warning, living in the shadows, and he plans to spend the rest of the month making the city his canvas.

Banksy is believed to be from Great Britain, but little else is known about him. The man has never been identified despite his global popularity. His New York City exhibit is titled "Better Out Than In" and is a reflection of his anti-art establishment philosophy.

The works are introduced each day through the month of October.

Melena Ryzik writes about art for The New York Times and told CBS News' Elaine Quijano that critics do not know that much about the mysterious street artist.

"We really only know what Banksy wants us to know, which is that he's a British artist who's made his name mostly doing street art, public work," she said.

For the better part of the past decade, Banksy has presented his pieces of political and social commentary throughout the world.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are among the growing number of collectors known to pay more than $1 million for a Banksy.

In a 2010 documentary, "Exit through the Gift Shop," Banksy said street art with a Wall Street price tag was never his intent.

"These famous auction houses all of the sudden they were selling street art, and everything was going a bit crazy, and suddenly it had become about the money, but it never was about the money," he said.

"Banksy operates in the same zone that Andy Warhol probably did," said Ryzik. "When Warhol first started painting soup cans, a lot of people said, 'We don't get it,' but it ended up making a real, lasting commentary on the art world and making a real, lasting mark, and obviously his work is still really, really valuable."

Of course, street artists face certain liabilities; the fleeting nature of their work is chief among them. Many of the Banksy New York pieces have already been tagged or defaced, while some building owners, perhaps unaware of the graffiti's value, have painted right over them.

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"He's saying, 'Art world, don't take yourself too seriously, I don't take it too seriously, and yet I am making millions of dollars from it.' He's kind of laughing all the way to the bank," said Ryzik.

A separate installation is expected each day. Each location is announced on the artist's website, though he will only give the general vicinity. It's a bit of a scavenger hunt for fans of the elusive artist.