“Guerilla art” entails leaving art pieces (often anonymously) in public places without permission. Durango’s Sam Bridgham isn’t technically anonymous, probably due to our town’s small size. He doesn’t sign his Lego sculptures or leave a business card tucked inside them. But despite many knowing who is detonating the Lego bombs, Bridgham definitely qualifies as a guerilla artist. Here are five international artists who have found acclaim with similar methods.
BanksyPerhaps the most famous graffiti artist of all time, and the most mysterious. Anonymous British artist Banksy often decorates public buildings using distinctive stencils in mostly black, gray or white color schemes. His true identity remains a secret, only adding to his cult appeal. Found on streets, walls and bridges the world over, Banksy’s work is satirical, darkly humorous and often offers political and social commentary. All the other artists on our guerilla list have come forward with their names to accept fame and glory; Banksy alone is elusive.
Jean-Michel BasquiatBasquiat eventually became a famous artist (his painting career took off and he collaborated with Andy Warhol), but he started off a high-school dropout with no formal training, who took to spray-painting New York City’s subway cars. He combined African-American historical figures with Caribbean motifs, cartoons and poetry. Basquiat’s graffiti designs are both childish and complex, with loud colors and haphazard squiggles and lines. He died of a heroin overdose at age 27.
IZ the WizIn the considerably-less-safe New York City of the ’70s and ’80s, Manhattan native Michael Martin went by pseudonym IZ the Wiz and ran rampant with urban graffiti. He “tagged” more subway cars than anyone, sometimes with his signature, sometimes with elaborate murals spanning the length of entire cars (like the John Lennon homage he did after the singer’s death). After years of using toxic aerosol products without any protective mask, IZ was diagnosed with kidney failure and stopped working for his health.
Magda SayegSayeg has been called the “mother” of the contemporary yarn bombing movement. This art form entails using knitted or crocheted material to “graffiti” urban environments. Sayeg has wrapped stripes and patterns of alternating yarn colors around cars, pipes, trees and double-decker buses. As her popularity grows, her art has evolved, moving into large scale installations and collaborations with companies like Absolut Vodka and Gap.
Jan VormannA sculptor from Berlin, Vormann has spent years traveling the globe to fix crumbling walls and buildings with multicolored plastic toy blocks. That’s right – he’s a Lego bomber. His project is called Dispatchwork, under which foundations, organizations and strangers send Vormann photos of places that need repairs, and he plasters the holes in walls or streets with innocuous Legos. They might not make anything structurally sounder, but they sure look cute.