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Regional Interests

‘The Art of Banksy’ is Coming to San Francisco, and He’d ‘Probably F—ing Hate it’

A new Banksy exhibition is coming to San Francisco this November, featuring 80 original works from private collections. Unauthorized by the anonymous street artist, The Art of Banksy is on a relentless world tour that’s already hit Canada, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden. Its American debut occurred during Art Basel, Miami Beach at the end of 2018.

Touting itself as a “globally acclaimed showcase,” the exhibition  features pieces created by Banksy between 1997 and 2008. Some of the artist’s most iconic works will feature, including “Girl With Balloon“, “Flower Thrower” and “Flying Copper.” In addition to prints, screenprints and canvases, some sculptures will be on display, as well as old photos of Banksy at work.

The venue for the exhibit has not been announced, and is currently being advertised as a “secret location in the heart of San Francisco.” Organizers are asking social media influencers with “at least 2,000 followers across all social media accounts” to create content to help promote The Art of Banksy.

Banksy has long asked that others use his work for “amusement and activism,” and not for profit. He told the Village Voice in 2013, “Commercial success is a mark of failure for a graffiti artist. We’re not supposed to be embraced in that way. When you look at how society rewards so many of the wrong people, it’s hard not to view financial reimbursement as a badge of self-serving mediocrity … When graffiti isn’t criminal, it loses most of its innocence.”

While the producers for the San Francisco show are Starvox Entertainment—the same company behind the Immersive van Gogh installation—The Art of Banksy was initially conceived and organized by Steve Lazarides, Banksy’s former friend and agent. Banksy and Lazarides have not worked together—or apparently spoken—since 2008.

While discussing the exhibit in 2016, Lazarides admitted to Time Out Melbourne that Banksy “probably fucking hates it.” Lazarides justified The Art of Banksy thusly: “He made himself public property … and I haven’t taken anything off the street. I’ve just put a collection of works together for people to enjoy the art of Banksy.”

‘The Art of Banksy’ opens Nov. 22, 2021, location TBD. Details here.

Copyright 2021 KQED