One of the biggest feuds in art-world history, street artist Banksy v graffiti writer Robbo is revealed to have rumbled on much longer than fans and art historians previously thought.
In December 2009 street artist Banksy created 4 illegal pieces of stencil art on the sides of a canal in Camden, London. One of the pieces, the Banksy Wallpaperer revived an ancient feud between the street artist Banksy and the then retired but still famous London graffiti writer known as Robbo.
By re-imagining a very old relic of Robbo graffiti dating from 1985 into a stencilled worker applying that graffiti as wallpaper, Banksy appeared to be suggesting that graffiti piece was perhaps just forgettable mass produced background rubbish.
Robbo and Banksy then engaged in a prolonged tit-for-tat exchange of insults by re-working those four art pieces in Camden, starting with Robbo turning the wallpaper into “King Robbo” on Christmas Day 2010 as first reported on Graffoto.
Banksy v Robbo, 25th December 2009, photo Dave Stuart
Many articles record that Banksy insulted Robbo at a party in the late 90s, Robbo assaulted Banksy and Banksy had nurtured the grudge ever since until his attack on the Robbo relic at the turn of the decade.
In a virtual presentation last week on Banksy’s London street art, street art tour guide and long term writer, photographer and Banksy fan Dave Stuart played a re-discovered and never before reported snippet of an exclusive interview with Robbo in which he says that Banksy had been attacking Robbo graffiti years before the Camden 2009 takeover.
In the interview, asked if he had been attacking Banksy art before 2009 Robbo laughingly replies
“………. before the King Robbo? No, he’s dogged [gone over] me before that has happened, I can show you a picture, it’s in one of his books. “
Smiley Copper, Banksy, Shoreditch photo Dave Stuart
The picture Robbo refers to is the Smiley Copper in Wall and Piece (2005). Robbo then confirms that the feud started in the Dragon Bar in Shoreditch in the 90s before going on to say
“And after that happened, there was a full name throw up [graffiti] of mine, “Robbo” and he decided to put the grim reaper or the smiley face over the top of it and at the time, I thought if that’s the best he can do … “
Examination of the Smiley Copper indeed shows the capital R of a piece of graffiti Robbo says was his has been squarely hit by the Smiley Copper which unusually has a huge Banksy tag across the centre of the artwork, leaving the intended recipient of the message in now doubt as to who has gone over him. In the world of graffiti there is no point in making a timid little mark over someone else, if you intend to insult someone you go big and bold.
Banksy Smiley Copper (amended), photo Dave Stuart
The Smiley Copper is believe to date from 2003 which indicates Banksy was picking the scab on that wound long before 2009 as previously thought.
Sadly Robbo had a terrible accident in 2011 which left him in a coma until his passing in 2014, rest in peace King Robbo.
The virtual online presentation “Banksy – The London Chronicle” is to be repeated this coming weekend at 10pm GMT on Saturday 9th January and 12 noon GMT on Sunday 10th January, times deliberately selected for convenience of Banksy fans in Latin America and North America and those in Asia and the Far East.
All photos: Dave Stuart
Dave Stuart will appear as an Expert Judge on TV art show Next Big Thing coming on London Live in the Spring, details to follow