Blek le Rat (Xavier Prou) was born In the Paris suburbs in 1952, he is very often called the father of graffiti art and was a big influence on Banksy. Blek le Rat himself was influenced by New York graffiti art after a trip there, his artwork started in 1981 using stencils because he thought they suited the Parisian architecture more. The name came from a comic book, he just changed 'Roc' to 'Rat' a simple anagram of Art.
His rats were the first of his work. He said they were the only "free" animal in the city ... Blek was arrested in 1991 and from then worked with pre stencilled posters. Later in the 2000's his work was often shown in galleries to date.
Tim S Seed
Link - Artsy.com - Blek le Rat Artworks
Link - Stencilrevolution on Blek le Rat
Blek le Rat - Banksy (image) & Friends from 2008
Banksy Pic Link - Banksy & Blek le Rat & Mates - 2008