The retrospective, titled CUT AND RUN, will open at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art later this month
The exhibition will showcase works from across Banksy’s career, stretching from 1998 to 2023. It will include new stencil versions of some of his most famous pieces, and the original sketches behind them, as well as some which have never previously been seen.
You can expect to see works like ‘Girl With a Balloon,’ ‘Mobile Lovers’, which shows a couple embracing as stare at their own phones over each other’s shoulders, and ‘Kissing Coppers’, a mural still on display in Brighton which depicts two police officers kissing (maybe that seemed more transgressive when it first appeared in 2014).
The exhibition will also feature a range of artefacts and ephemera, including his own toilet, the bullet-proof vest he designed for Stormzy’s Glastonbury set, and a model which explains how he shredded his ‘Girl With a Balloon’ painting in the middle of a Sotheby’s auction, right after it had sold for £1 million. Following this stunt, Banksy declared it was a new piece of work, titled ‘Love is in the Bin’ and sold it to the same buyer for 20 times the price.
As for why he’s choosing to hold the event at the GOMA, he explained it’s because his “favorite work of art in the UK” is located right outside the museum. As a label at the entrance explains, he is referring to a statue of the Duke of Wellington which – famously – always has a cone on its head. This has been a fixture for so long that it’s become an icon of the city, so much so that it featured in the opening ceremony of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth games. “This might sound absurd and pretentious (just wait until you see the rest of the exhibition) but it’s my favourite work of art in the UK and the reason I’ve brought the show here,” Banksy wrote in a statement.
This is his first official show since 2009, but there have been a number of unsanctioned exhibitions around the world, including The Art of Banksy, a travelling exhibition which will return to London later this year. “While the unauthorised Banksy shows might look like sweepings from my studio floor, CUT & RUN really is the actual sweepings from my studio floor,” he joked.
Despite being one of the world’s most famous artists, Banksy has still never revealed his identity, and it’s been over 20 years since he has given a face-to-face interview. “I’ve kept these stencils hidden away for years, mindful they could be used as evidence in a charge of criminal damage,” he added. “But that moment seems to have passed, so now I’m exhibiting them in a gallery as works of art. I’m not sure which is the greater crime.”
The artist’s critical standing has taken a hit over the last decade or so: Dismaland (a satirical pop-up theme park in Somerset) was met with mostly negative reviews; the Sotheby’s shredding stunt was widely dismissed as an example of the art world vulgarity it was trying to critique, and his name has become a stand-in for lazy, obvious political satire. It’s not really his fault, beyond being too influential, but now when someone draws a cartoon of, like, Donald Trump sucking off Putin, it’s liable to be described as ‘Banky-esque’. But maybe this retrospective will turn things around. Time has been kind to the simplistic political statements on which he built his career: it turns out that war, consumerism and imperialism are bad. Banksy was right.