Non-consensual: About that Banksy exhibition coming to Atlanta this fall

You’ve likely heard that an exhibition of the work of British street artist Banksy is coming to Atlanta this fall. What you may not know is that the exhibition has not been authorized by the artist. In fact, he’s disavowed it and others that have been mounted around the world.

“The Art of Banksy: Without Limits” opens Sept. 3 at the Westside Cultural Arts Center, which is currently playing host to the Sistine Chapel exhibition.

Promotion for “Without Limits” says the exhibition will include 140 original art pieces, photos, sculptures, Banksy’s work “reproduced with stencil technique,” and a video documentary. Since much of Banksy’s most well-known political and social commentary pieces have been spray-painted on buildings and public sites – many now painted over, removed or defaced – the transient nature of his art would seem impossible to capture in an exhibition.

Banksy posted a statement on his website concerning the exhibitions that have cropped up: Members of the public should be aware there has been a recent spate of Banksy exhibitions none of which are consensual. They‘ve been organised entirely without the artist’s knowledge or involvement. Please treat them accordingly.

This isn’t to say Banksy hasn’t participated in any exhibitions or created art for public sale. He famously sold signed canvasses of his work on the streets of New York for just $60 in 2013 and his large-scale canvas “Devolved Parliament” – depicting members of the UK parliament as chimpanzees –  sold for a record £9.9 million in London in 2019. The artist made headlines around the world in 2018 when a canvas of his famous “Balloon Girl” was sold at Sotheby’s in London for over £1 million. Shortly after the auction, a shredder hidden in the frame destroyed the work.

Of course, one of the most enduring and alluring things about the work of Banksy is that no one has been able to unmask him for more than 30 years. Rumors continue to swirl about Banksy’s identity, with speculation that he’s artist Robin Gunningham or Robert Del Naja of the band Massive Attack, among others.

While “Without Limits” might be unauthorized by the artist, the guerrilla-style marketing of the exhibition on social media is hard to ignore and the promise of seeing at least a few original Banksy works is too tantalizing to pass up.

For tickets and more information, visit artofbanksy.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is the editor of Atlanta Intown.