This summer the largest collection of Banksy works ever to be displayed together will be exhibited in the ‘Eternal City’ of Rome. The exhibition, which is not affiliated with the artist himself, will feature works from private collectors around the world.
The exhibition titled ‘War, Capitalism & Liberty’ will be held in the Palazzo Cipolla Museum, a relatively new gallery which opened in 1999. The exhibition will include 120 items including a selection of paintings, prints & sculptures and shall explore the political aspects of Banksy’s work.
Banksy who maintains strict anonymity at all times is mostly quiet in the media, usually only breaking his silence to deny his endorsement or involvement in a given project. The Bristol based artist is perhaps the most famous street artist at work today and has been active for the last sixteen years, having made his debut show in Bristol in the year 2000.
Banksy’s work is characterised by his response to political and social developments in the world at large. He has critiqued capitalism, war and poverty among other topics in his work. Last year he took to Calais, northern France where he created a mural depicting the Apple Corporation’s co-founder Steve Jobs as a migrant. Another work which critiqued the migrant crisis was a mural that appeared outside the French embassy in London, it featured the familiar face of a girl from Les Misérables holding the French Tricolour, while a billowing can of teargas lies at her feet. In this way, the artist challenges the public to think differently about the policies our governments implement in our name.
His work, which by its nature, is free for the masses to enjoy has also shone a light on capitalism. He challenged the way the art market works when in 2013 he set up a street stall in New York. While there he sold original pieces to tourists for $60 each. Nobody would recognise the artist given his extremely low media profile and so only a small number of people actually took advantage of the opportunity to buy an original Banksy from the artist himself. This, in itself, acts as a critique of our capitalist system – art worth thousands of dollars did not sell when presented on the street rather than in an expensive gallery.
A previous unauthorised exhibition, titled ‘Stealing Banksy’, prompted the artist to comment, tongue in cheek, that he thought ‘it’s disgusting people are allowed to go around displaying art on walls without getting permission.’ The promoters of this exhibition, which is not for profit, have stressed that this show is ‘characterised by a strong educational and school-targeting component’ where people will be guided through a ‘comprehensive scientific review of the artist’. This seems only right as Banksy himself creates art for people as a way to engage in a meaningful conversation about issues that matter.
The exhibition is due to run from 24th May until 4th September. Admission costs €13.50 and tickets can be purchased from the exhibition website.