Opening of the Banksy fashion show in Minneapolis

The images on the walls of the Lighthouse Art Space in Minneapolis are familiar to anyone who has followed the art world in recent years.

“They are very recognizable. And, of course, they are bold,” said Nick Harkin, representative of the Art of Banksy show. He says that as a street artist, Banksy puts his finger in the eye things he hasn’t liked for a long time.

“And he has very strong opinions about the royal family in Britain. He pointed out views on war and pacifism. And all this is reflected in his works.

Banksy, who remains anonymous despite creating pieces known to millions, often using stencils, in public spaces around the world. Harkin points out that this show, in Banksy’s mind, is not allowed.

“If we waited for Banksy to allow a show, there wouldn’t be one,” he said with a smile.

Images from the “Art of Banksy” show include the artists’ image blends that often carry a pacifist message.

Courtesy of Starvox Entertainment

The pieces in the Minneapolis exhibit are all genuine works by Banksy, screen prints based on those works that he sells to collectors. Harkin says owners want people to see them. Show organizers say that, taken together, the work on the walls is worth some $35 million.

Arranged in roughly chronological order, the show also includes depictions of some of Banksy’s famous stunts, including when he began slipping pieces he had made into exhibits at major museums. Harkin leads the way with a photo of what at first glance appears to be an ancient pictograph. But there is something strange about it.

“Peckham Rock shows a supposed prehistoric figure pushing a shopping cart. It was placed in the British Museum in 2005, together with an authentic information label. And it took three days for anyone in the museum to realize something was wrong. There’s actually a YouTube video of him setting this up in the museum,” Harkin said.

But the main attractions are Banksy’s images, including his ‘Girl with Balloon’. It’s a stenciled figure of a young girl with one arm reaching out to a heart-shaped balloon trailing a string. It is monochromatic except for the ball which can be one of many bright colors.

“We have two ‘Girl with Balloon’ screen prints, one pink and one red,” Harkin said. “And of course, it’s one of the most beloved pieces of contemporary art in the world. In fact, there was a recent poll where people asked what their favorite piece of contemporary art was and ci is ranked number 1. Whether or not the girl reaches for the ball, or lets go or not, depends on your interpretation.

It was a “Girl with Balloon” image that notoriously self-destructed at a Sotheby’s auction moments after selling for $1.4 million. Harkin points out that the shredded remains are now worth even more.

Banksy's girl with a balloon

Perhaps Banksy’s most popular image “Girl with Balloon” has been repeatedly recreated by the artist. Most notoriously, a framed edition of the image shredded shortly after being sold at auction. Shredded Pieces are now worth more than the original sell price when the image was whole.

Courtesy of Starvox Entertainment

There are also more pointed political works in the series.

“A lot of the work that references war or the police, you can see that in some cases soldiers, soldiers with guns, have smiling faces,” Harkin said. “And he comments on police activities and also on war and aggression. One of the most iconic images is of a policeman searching Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz shopping cart as Toto looks on.

And being Banksy, there are plenty of pictures of rats, which Harkin says is “an anagram of the word art.”

It tells a story about how different people react to Banksy’s work. He slipped into the London Underground, popularly known as the Tube, and stenciled many of his favorite rodents onto the walls.

Harkin said they were quickly discovered after Banksy left. “Now the guards saw the graffiti and very quickly cleaned it up, not realizing it was Banksy. And then the transport authority in London the next day asked him to come back and do this. But unfortunately he refused.

An image from the Chicago presentation of

An image from the Chicago presentation of ‘The Art of Banksy’. The show now at Lighthouse ArtSpace in Minneapolis features around 100 works from across the career of the notoriously anonymous British artist whose work can sell for millions of dollars.

Courtesy of Starvox Entertainment

When asked, Harkin wouldn’t predict how many people might come to the show. He is more inclined to answer if there will be a lot of crossovers from people who came to see the Immersive Van Gogh exhibition.

“There is humor in the show. There is definitely some controversial content. That’s what Banksy is,” he said. “And I think it will attract a lot of people who maybe weren’t interested in Van Gogh. But I hope a lot of those same people who enjoyed Van Gogh will also come back to see him.

And of course there’s always the question that lingers in some people’s minds as to whether Banksy might be in the crowd.

“You could be standing next to him. If you don’t like the artwork, don’t say it too loud,” says Harkin. “He remains elusive. No one really knows who he is. It’s a bit like when a magician does a trick. And you don’t really want to know how the magician did it. That’s kind of how I look at Banksy.

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About Bernice D. Brewer

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