Overview of Banksy Shows, Exhibits and Pranks
‘Theft is bringing street art inside and then charging an admission fee.’
Banksy has produced and organized several major exhibitions in the UK and in the US that have allowed him to share his works and messages with the world. However, the artist has never created what one would call a “traditional” art exhibition. Each and every Banksy show is a carefully curated experience. Typically lasting for a only few days, the shows are always free to the public.
Reminiscent of Yves Klein who created innovative art happenings in France in the 1960’s, such as live painting on naked women, having the attendees drink Methylene Blue so that it would turn their urine blue, or playing the monotone symphony which he composed himself (comprised of one, single note) – a Banksy exhibit is guaranteed to make a statement.
Banksy is particularly fond of playing “pranks” or creating art installations that stimulate a conversation and let the public know exactly where he stands on the often contentious issues facing society. He does this in a thoughtful, artistic way – and uses the vast media coverage to shine a light on issues he feels need our attention.
1. PRODUCT RECALL
In September 2018, in response to the preponderance of “Banksy exhibitions” organized all over the world, the artist added a new section to his website entitled “Product Recall.” He did this in order to make clear to the public that many Banksy exhibitions had been organized “entirely without the artist’s knowledge or involvement” – as a way to clearly draw a clear line in the sand between his work and those who attempt to leverage his status and/or work without his involvement. As outlined in the image below, Banksy has made all of his exhibits free to the public (with the sole exception being Dismaland – and even that was merely £3).
‘Please treat them accordingly.’
2. OFFICIAL BANKSY SHOWS
Bristol, February 2000
New Paintings, Photographs, and Graffiti
Extremism in Defense of Liberty is No Vice
Rivington Street Tunnel
London, May 2000
Graffiti Art Live and Direct in London
An Illicit Outdoor Gallery Experience
Los Angeles, July 2002
An Exhibition of Graffiti, Lies, and Deviousness
London, July 2003
An Exhibition of Graffiti, Stencils, Slogans and Live Animals
London, October 2005
A Gallery of Re-Mixed Master-Pieces, Vandalism, and Vermin
Los Angeles, October 2006
A Three-Day Vandalized Warehouse Extravaganza
The Cans Festival
London, May 2008
A Street Party of Stencil Art
The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill
New-York, October 2008
Do You Want Flies with That?
Banksy vs. Bristol Museum
Bristol, July 2009
First Banksy Museum Exhibit in his hometown of Bristol
Better Out Than In
New-York, October 2013
One Month Artist’s Residence in the Streets of New-York
Weston Super Mare, 2015
A Family-Themed Park unsuitable for children
The Walled Off Hotel
Jerusalem, March 2017
The Hotel with the Worse View in the World Read More
Gross Domestic Product
London, October 2019
3. BANKSY PRANKS AND STUNTS
October 2003 – May 2005
Between 2003 and 2005, Banksy entered various major museums in London, Paris and New York to hang his own artworks on the walls.
The first time he did this was at the Tate Britain in October 2003, where he placed Crimewatch UK Has Ruined the Countryside For All of Us. The following year he pulled the stunt again – this time at the Louvre Museum, hanging a copy of the Mona Lisa with a big, yellow smiley face. This was only the beginning…
In August 2004, Banksy produced a quantity of fake GBP 10 pound notes, replacing the picture of the Queen’s head with the head of Diana, Princess of Wales. Someone threw a large amount of Di-Faced Tenners into a crowd at the Notting Hill Carnival that year.
Paris Hilton Debut CD
In August/September 2006, Banksy placed around 500 copies of Paris Hilton‘s debut CD in UK record stores replacing it with his own cover art and remixes by Danger Mouse.
Love Is In The Bin
On 5 October 2018, a version of Balloon Girl was sold at Sotheby’s London for just over £1 million. While the crowd was still applauding the record result and smiling, a remote was used to send the canvas through a shredder hidden within the frame, partially shredding the picture. Banksy certainly got the whole world buzzing with this stunt as even folks who were not art collectors heard about this as it received worldwide news coverage.
Banksy, via social media, expressed disappointment that the entire painting was not shredded in the aftermath and again taught us to “expect the unexpected” when it comes to him. Ironically (or maybe not) Banksy partially destroying the work caused its value to skyrocket immediately. Although this piece has not returned to the auction block since it was first sold, it was estimated that the value doubled after this stunt. Perhaps the message here highlights the ridiculousness of society valuing such a work only after it has been destroyed.
The Venice Biennale
Banksy wrote, “despite being the largest and most prestigious art event in the world, for some reason I’ve never been invited.” Never one to despair, Banksy took to the streets to display some of his work. Naturally, the unauthorized display was quickly identified by the police who ushered the vendor (and his paintings) away. Yet again, Banksy shows us that these institutions have enormous responsibility since they effectively serve as gatekeepers and directly shape what messages society sees.