Nobody knows who Banksy is, yet everybody knows who he is. Although his identity is a mystery, Banksy is the most famous graffiti artist in the world. In fact, even those to whom his name doesn’t ring a bell, have probably already seen his iconic images somewhere. And now, you can see Banksy in Vienna, at the unauthorized exhibition “The Art of Banksy – Without Limits”.
Banksy in Vienna: a tribute or fake exhibition?
The exhibition on Banksy, currently at the Sofiensäle in Vienna, shows more than 100 works by the British artist, although most are copies. You’ll only see five original works at the controversial exhibition that Banksy calls “a fake”. Curator Guillermo Quintana doesn’t seem to be bothered by the critics and says he wants to pay tribute to Banksy.
Has Banksy been Banksy-ed?
It is quite ironic that the British street artist who declared that “Copyright is for Losers” should be now complaining about the exhibition he hasn’t authorised. But, as it usually happens, artists who fight the establishment end up famous and mainstream. If you are spending summer in Vienna, and now that you are aware that you’ll see copies of the artworks, The Art of Banksy in Vienna is an opportunity to learn more about the thought-provoking artist.
What we know about Banksy
As said, the mysterious graffiti artist has managed to keep his identity a secret despite his massive success. But there are a few things we know about him. The elusive Banksy was born in Bristol, in 1974 and was part of a gang named DryBreadZ Crew. He was inspired by the first French graffiti artist, Blek Le Rat, who is considered as the father of stencil graffiti. To that matter, Banksy said, “every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier.“
Why he is so famous
In 2010, Banksy was on the Time Magazine 100 Most Influential People list. The street artist was next to the likes of Barack Obama and Steve Jobs. His work can be found on the walls of cities around the world. From Bristol and London to Paris, from New York to Sydney, anywhere where the artist’s stencils appear becomes a landmark to be seen. What makes Banksy the king of street art is his ability to shake us with strong political statements while using humour and poetry. “He speaks for a generation”, explained the director of London’s Maddox Gallery, Maeve Doyle.
His most iconic work, destroyed
When asked about their most beloved artwork, the British people elected the Girl with Ballon on London’s Waterloo Bridge. A framed version of the cute image went to auction at Sotheby’s in 2018 and sold for over a million Euros. Just after the hammer went down, the work of art famously self-destroyed! The artist had placed a shredder inside the frame. “In case it was ever put up for auction”, he later explained in a post on Instagram. The woman who bought it said she would keep the shredded piece; “At first I was shocked, but I realised I would end up with my own piece of art history.”
Fun facts about Banksy
In 2013, Banksy sold original stencil paintings for 60 dollars each in a street stall, near Central Park. Of course, most of the people just walked by. Understandably, they thought these were copies of the famous works that sell for small fortunes at auctions houses. When selling his artwork, Banksy usually uses other people to deliver his certifications of authenticity, which he calls “Pest Control”.
One of his sculptures, “The Drinker” was stolen with a crane from its location, in the centre of London. The documentary “The Banksy Job” follows what happens next, including a ransom demand to return the sculpture that looks like Rodin’s famous “The Thinker” but has a road cone on his head.
“The Art of Banksy – Without Limits” in Vienna
Until the 4th of October, you can visit the show at the Sofiensäle. You’ll see prints on different kinds of materials, photos and sculptures. Additionally, a video documentary shows the life and work of one of the most valuables artist of today.
In order to to keep enough distance, only 200 people are admitted per hour to the exhibition on Banksy in Vienna. Tickets with precisely defined timeslots are available in advance here.
From Monday to Friday: 12:00 – 22:00
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 – 22:00
Public Holiday: 10:00 – 22:00
Address: Sofiensäle, Maxergasse 17, 1030 Vienna.
All photo by Martin Szlezac, courtesy of The Art of Banksy Exhibition.