“The Art of Banksy” in Chicago

While his true identity remains a mystery, the graffiti artist known only by the mononym Banksy has gained international fame.

Little is known about the artist, except for speculation regarding his birthplace (Bristol, England) and his penchant for social commentary that manifests through his art.

Songs like “Save or Delete”, “Rage, The Flower Thrower” and “Di-faced Tenner” are responses to deforestation, the Palestinian conflict and the royal family’s treatment of Princess Diana.

As the artist no longer publicly sells his work (although he still creates public exhibitions), Banksy enthusiasts and collectors have come together to create “The art of Banksy”, an unauthorized exhibition of over 80 originals by Banksy for a total estimated value of $ 35 million.

The exhibit traveled to Chicago in August and had its last exhibit in the city on October 31. While his pieces are widely shared on the internet, the exhibit allowed Banksy fans to see authentic pieces from private collections in person for the first time. time.

Banksy may be known for his graffiti, but the pseudonymous artist works in a multitude of mediums. He produced a documentary, a book, postcards, album covers, a theme park and at one point had his own printing house called Pictures on Walls.

All these works and many more were exhibited at the “The Art of Banksy” exhibition. The collection contained pieces spanning more than 20 years of Banksy’s career, including works from gallery exhibitions, silkscreen prints and memorabilia from his public art stunts.

Upon entering the exhibit, visitors were greeted with a stenciled statement which read: “At this point this needs to be clarified, Banksy himself has not given any acknowledgment about this exhibit, nor has approves or authorizes it in any way.

Nicholas Fasolt, a visitor to the exhibition, was surprised at the high cost of entry.

“It was too expensive, which seems contrary to Banksy’s message,” Fasolt said.

Tickets for “The Art of Banksy” ranged from $ 55 to $ 70. By comparison, Banksy’s public art installations are free to enter.

The exhibit, however, was not created for profit.

According to Ian Ellis, the curator who recounted the audio tour of the exhibit, all proceeds will go to Love Welcomes, a charity that Banksy has publicly endorsed. The organization sells and supports works of art created by refugee women artisans.

Longtime Banksy fan Juan Davis from Compton, Calif., Flew from Los Angeles to see the exhibit. It was all he expected. He took advantage of photo opportunities at the exhibit and purchased several prints at the gift shop.

“It was great; he had it all,” Davis said. “The only thing I thought was there that wasn’t was the Simpsons collaboration. I thought they could show it on a TV screen. .

While the opening sequence for Banksy’s ‘sofa gag’ was not shown, several video interviews with Ben Eine, Banksy’s screen printer and co-founder of Pictures on Walls, were displayed in the gallery.

Eine provided anecdotes about his time spent working with Banksy, including choosing to omit the names of the artists and censor him himself by uttering the word “beep”.

Banksy’s commitment to anonymity is a big part of his appeal to fans.

“Most artists want their works to be famous and become famous themselves,” said Jackie Xu, an exhibition visitor.

She noted that it was admirable for an artist using such a public medium to lead such a private life.

Despite “The Art of Banksy” featuring the largest collection of Banksy originals ever brought together in one location, the artist has not commented publicly on the exhibition.

Maybe Banksy offers his silent approval, or maybe his silence isn’t a statement at all but a continuation of his commitment to privacy.

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