Some say that he isn’t one man, but a collective, others that he used to be a butcher and you can find folk that claim he is a former public schoolboy from Bristol. Whoever or whatever Banksy is, he is certainly successful. His stencilled, spray-painted works are among the most recognised and liked of any artist working today. Now he has made the move from grimy backstreets to the hallowed walls of Sotheby’s.
Steve Lazarides, Banksy’s agent, has curated the first unauthorised (has there been an authorised one that I missed) retrospective exhibition of his work and it is on show at the Sotheby’s S|2 gallery. Anyone can walk in off St George Street and take a look at the 70 or so works. If you have a spare £4,000 – £500,000 to spare you even buy one. The atmosphere in Sotheby’s is usually one of moneyed calm, not so at the Banksy unofficial retrospective: people take photos of the art work and each other and chatter.
Many of the works on show have never been seen in public before. Some comment on the illegal nature of Banksy’s early graffiti, such as ‘Avon and Somerset Constabulary’ spray painted onto canvas at a time when the police were hunting for Banksy. Andy Warhol is nodded to with multiple screen-prints of Kate Moss and portraits of Tesco Value Soup cans.
St George Street is just a short skip away from Oxford Circus, if you’re in the area it’s well worth a detour to see the works of a much talked about artist for nothing. Sotheby’s has a very genteel restaurant in its main buildings on New Bond Street but if its just a coffee that you are after head for Everbean at 30 Avery Row.
BANKSY: THE UNAUTHORISED RETROSPECTIVE
S|2 LONDON, 31 St George Street, London W1S 2FJ
Open: 11 June – 25 July 2014, 10am-5pm. Free entry