The world’s largest touring exhibition of Britain’s most notorious artist has arrived in the capital. It’s hard to miss the main entrance at Regent street with its friendly staff giving away red balloons.
As you walk through the entrance, the first thing you’ll notice is the Valentine’s Day Mascara mural worth £6 million. The art, which weighs some 3.8 tonnes, originally appeared on a property in Margate on February 13 and was moved to Regent street by crane specially for this show.
On display at the three-storey venue are prints, canvasses, screen prints, sculptures, unique works and limited‐edition pieces mainly dated from 1997 to today. The exhibition features iconic works such as “Girl and Balloon”, “Gangsta Rat”, “Toxic Mary” and ‘Rude Copper’ alongside some of Banksy’s lesser-known masterpieces and never-seen before art, such as Mona Lisa (2003 & 2022). This signed but previously unknown work was bought direct from Banksy by a Hollywood A-list actor in 2003. In 2022 it was returned to Banksy who developed the work further and assembled a new artwork incorporating the original one. Earlier this year it was sold to a collector who has generously decided to include it in the collection for a limited time only.
Banksy never fails to amaze
The exhibition comprises 100+ works kindly shared with the general public by private collectors and even three of Banksy’s ex-girlfriends. Interestingly, the unorthodox artist himself hasn’t authorised the exhibition – hence the full name, The Art of Banksy: Private Collection Unauthorized.
Very little is known about the Bristol-born street artist as he chooses to remain anonymous, but we do know that the world-renowned mystery man has been active since the 1990s. He creates masterpieces with political and social commentary, often controversial and disruptive, but provoking alternative viewpoints.
His work has appeared on streets, walls, and bridges throughout the world. At the exhibition you will find out why Banksy is using distinctive stencils and how it all started. This story alone is worth a proper Hollywood biopic. Visitors can also learn the history behind the iconic “Flower Thrower” (“Love is in the air”).
Banksy vs Paris Hilton
Don’t pass the neon sign ‘Paris Hilton’ on the second floor of the exhibition where you will find several booths with headphones. This is probably the funnies part of the show as it represents Banksy’s prank on Paris Hilton.
In 2006 after the release of Paris’s debut album Banksy planted 500 copies of his own version of the album in 48 record shops across the UK replacing the originals with his badly remixed (on purpose) version and case intact with correct barcode so that Hilton fans purchased his copy unaware. Banksy altered the inner sleeve with images of the socialite set against a back drop of the homeless sleeping on the streets of LA, or with her head superimposed on the body of a mannequin.
The Art of Banksy exhibition takes place at 84-86 Regent Street, London W1B 5HB. Tickets starts from £17.50 and can be found here.