Above: The queue to look at the shredded Banksy on the Saturday after the auction--during which the sold work was auto-shredded. Credit: Oscopic.
The art aficionados-connoisseurs don't have a say in who becomes an artist who is popular with the people. The people, the masses, don't wait to read T.J. Clark, or even Jonathan Jones, before deciding which artists are important to them. In the UK, the one artist who does speak to the masses these days is Banksy. (The two others which are often written about in UK media, and proposed as such, Tracey and Grayson, are not actually popular with the masses at all, it's just that the editors keep on ramming them down the public's throat ad infinitum--SOED: without limit; forever.)
After the shredding scandal, Jonathan Jones wrote in The Guardian that Banksy had proved himself as an important artist. Meaning that he had proved himself to Jones and maybe Jones's friends. Jones's point was to note that he, an aficionado, and gatekeeper, was deciding to wave Banksy through into the room of seriousness.
But surely Jones misses the point. Banksy doesn't seek for, or wish to gain, any stamp of approval from the liberal-elite art aficionados. The opposite is true in fact. Banksy perceives the liberal art elite as a bunch of irrelevant tossers.
Banksy's relationship is with the vital force of the public's engagement and participation. And his works require no expert to recommend them.
Banksy's work is politically engaged in a way that is similar to Ai Weiwei's: the work is unsubtle and somewhat unoriginal, but it has force insofar as the times we live in are just not conducive to subtleness and poetry. George Grosz's work was not subtle or poetic in its portrayals of 1920s Berlin.
(23 December 2018)