Banksy Gets the ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ Treatment in a Touring Show Hitting New York This Week—and the Artist Does Not Approve

One does not expect the first big New York fall art show one attends to be Banksy, but the Art Gods will have their say. 

Just hours before the remnants of Hurricane Ida steamrolled the New York region, I made my way to an exhibition space on 14th Street, near a Foot Locker and a Pinkberry, for the sprawling show “Banksy: Genius or Vandal?” The traveling exhibition (one of several currently making the rounds) offers a deluge of some 100 prints by the famed street artist, whose guerrilla works—sometimes politically incisive, sometimes absurdly humorous, sometimes just cute—have captivated a mass audience for years. The show contains a VR experience, a video montage of the anonymous artist’s works, and scene-setting flourishes like a mock British phone booth. 

The artist is not amused by these tributes. When the show appeared in Moscow in 2018, his responses, in an Instagram post, included “What’s the opposite of LOL?” He disavowed the show, saying, “I don’t charge people to see my art unless there’s a fairground wheel.” Tickets to the New York presentation cost $29.50, or $19.90 for kids; to date, it has drawn over 3 million visitors in 15 cities…you do the math. (Banksy’s post did, however, acknowledge the irony of criticizing unauthorized presentations of his unauthorized works.)

The show is organized in cooperation with Banksy dealer Andrew Lilley; a great many of the prints are from his holdings. Helpfully, if you’re feeling acquisitive, the wall labels point you to his website. And the spectacle is produced by Exhibition Hub and Fever, which between them offer exhibitions on artists like Claude Monet, Gustav Klimt, and Michael Jackson. Probably Fever’s best known offering would be “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience,” which got them in hot water with New York’s Better Business Bureau when customers confused it with “Immersive Van Gogh,” the Emily in Paris one.

Installation view of the immersive (and unauthorized) Banksy exhibition “Genius or Vandal.” Photo courtesy of Erick Pendzich.

Girding myself for what press reps promised was a “family-friendly storytelling experience,” I headed first to the VR presentation. To a politely funky soundtrack, I floated through grit-dusted alleyways, where animated Banksys pop up on the graffitied walls as if being painted live. The 10-minute voyage packs in the works, and they go by too fast. This sets the tone for an overstocked show that screams “I’m a blockbuster!” 

Some of the displays are clever enough. At the entry, the organizers—admitting that they can’t offer the conventional biography—provide the next best thing: a recreation of the artist’s studio from his hit 2010 mockumentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. But it faces off with the show’s worst sin, a curtained room with a blaring videomontage, complete with grating soundtrack (sirens and police radios, get it?), of numerous works connected by red string in the classic evidence board motif. The sound drowns out thought in the neighboring galleries. 

All the hits are here, represented by the prints the artist makes to complement his wall works in the wild—Girl with a Balloon, Riot Copper, Monkey Parliament, Dismaland, Walled-Off Hotel—and grouped under themes like politics, Brexit, consumption, and protest. Taken together, the breadth of Banksy’s output and the many tough subjects he has tackled, from the surveillance state to the police state to the state of constant war, is impressive. I was heartened to be reminded that he puts his money where his mouth is—raising money to assist women in Greek refugee camps, for example, and converting Dismaland’s building materials into housing for refugees. 

A viewer takes in the Banksy exhibition “Genius or Vandal.” Photo courtesy of Erick Pendzich.

But that made seeing this art in a gigantic, money-minting corporate expo all the more disheartening. Overall, the experience of encountering works that give form to ideas expressed in the street, continents apart, divorced here from their local and temporal context, had the effect of taming them, leaving me feeling as if I were observing one of Banksy’s classic feral rats, bathed, combed, and caged. 

Banksy points out in his book Wall and Piece that rats “exist without permission,” that “if you are dirty, insignificant and unloved, then rats are the ultimate role model.” Fun fact: They can also swim for three days on end. As the skies opened up over New York, sending down a record three inches of rain per hour, I realized that maybe Banksy is right. Maybe we need to learn something from the rats. And that even an unauthorized show about a guerrilla artist has, like these animals, a right to exist.

Banksy: Genius or Vandal” is currently on view at 526 6th Avenue, New York City. 

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From Banksy’s Summer ‘Spraycation’ to Yayoi Kusama’s Typhoon-Tossed Pumpkin: The Best and Worst of the Art World This Week

Sotheby’s Sets Out fo Sin City The auction house is partnering with MGM Resorts in Vegas for a $100 million sale of Picasso works.

Banksy’s Summer ‘Spraycation’ – The anonymous artist confirmed authorship of a string of murals that cropped up in English coastal towns earlier this week.

It’s Britney Bitch  Just as the pop princess won a major victory in court, the Art Angle delves into artists’ fascination with Britney Spears.

Introducing Art House – A new art destination will set up shop in the former Barneys flagship location on Madison Avenue, offering a dedicated art fair in November.

Frieze Sculpture Returns to Regents Park – The beloved en plein air art exhibition is free and open to the public, offering a bevy of fantastical works at the storied London site.

Christie’s Evangelizes CryptoPunks in Hong Kong – The auction house announced it will now offer NFTs in Asia, becoming the first major auction house to do so.

Superblue Brings Super Art – The immersive art organization is bringing telegenic, interactive installations about climate change to both London and New York this fall, courtesy DRIFT and Studio Swine, respectively.


Students Sue Over Lost Studios – Students at the Glasgow School of Art are suing the institution for cutting their degree show and limiting access to studios during the global pandemic.

ICA London Director Exits – Stefan Kalmár, the first-ever non-British director to lead the museum is stepping down after five years, citing Brexit and a rise in racism around the country.

Art Council Members Resign En Masse – Four members of Hong Kong’s Arts Council, including an artist who defended Ai Weiwei’s artwork, resigned from their posts as the country’s freedoms are increasingly limited.

Book Fair Cancelled – New York’s beloved Antiquarian Book Fair has been called off due to mounting concerns over the super-transmissible Delta variant.

Ancient Relic Reveals Grisly Ritual – Archaeologists discovered a relic suggesting that ancient Romans fed prisoners to lions as part of executions.

Typhoon Wrecks Kusama Pumpkin – Strong gusts of wind from a typhoon in Japan sent Yayoi Kusama’s famed pumpkin sculpture flying into the sea.

Florida Politician Scuttles Public Art Show – The mayor of Coral Gables, Florida forced artists Sandra Ramos and Cai Guo-Qiang to be cut from a public art show because he disagreed with their sympathetic comments toward communism.

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Banksy Confirms He Was Behind a Spree of New Murals That Popped Up in Coastal England Towns Earlier This Week

Days after reports first emerged about a possible string of new Bansky murals across coastal England, the anonymous street artist has confirmed that he is responsible for the works.

The murals, which appeared in the towns of Lowestoft, Gorleston, Oulton Broad, Cromer, and Great Yarmouth, feature many of the motifs that are common in Banksy’s world, including his stenciled rat.

The artist, who confirms his street works on Instagram and his website, posted a video taking viewers on a journey he dubbed the “Great English Spraycation.” It opens with an RV transporting the artist from one site to the next, set to an accordion rendition of the 2019 song Dance Monkey by Australian singer Tones & I.

The murals variously feature children wearing paper pirate hats and playing in an abandoned canoe, hermit crabs holding up a sign reading “Luxury rentals only,” an arcade crane claw painted on a wall above a bench (poised to pluck unassuming bystanders), a dapper couple swing dancing next to an accordion player, and a man enjoying an adult beverage while pumping air into a dinghy floating off with his lightweight children inside.

Below, see more images from the artist’s seaside excursions.

Banksy, <i>A Great British Spraycation</i> (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, A Great British Spraycation (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, <i>A Great British Spraycation</i> (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, A Great British Spraycation (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, <i>A Great British Spraycation</i> (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, A Great British Spraycation (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, <i>A Great British Spraycation</i> (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, A Great British Spraycation (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, <i>A Great British Spraycation</i> (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, A Great British Spraycation (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, <i>A Great British Spraycation</i> (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, A Great British Spraycation (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, <i>A Great British Spraycation</i> (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, A Great British Spraycation (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, <i>A Great British Spraycation</i> (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Banksy, A Great British Spraycation (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

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Phillips London Just Set Nearly 20 Auction Records for Emerging Artists in Its $8.8 Million ‘New Now’ Sale

Phillips’s “New Now” contemporary art sale in London on July 13, which featured an eclectic mix of artworks by emerging, buzzed-about artists alongside established blue-chip names like Andy Warhol, Banksy, and KAWS, pulled in a sturdy £6.4 million ($8.8 million), the highest total for a Phillips London sale in the category.

The intermingling of well-established with new names in a single auction tends to lead to a clear split between the top prices, with the more recognizable stars bringing in more cash.

But the Phillips sale was something of an exception: while the top lots of the night were by Warhol and KAWS, much buzzed-about figurative artists like Genieve Figgis also made big splashes, and nearly 20 auction records were set for living artists, including Josh Smith, Ryan Gander, and Oli Epp. 

Andy Warhol Flowers (1964-65). Image courtesy Phillips.

Andy Warhol Flowers (1964-65). Image courtesy Phillips.

Of 224 lots offered, 198, or 86 percent, were sold. By value, the auction was 94 percent sold, a reflection of the number of lots that brought over-estimate prices. 

“The strength of the market was demonstrated through the enthusiasm and depth of bidding from bidders across 48 countries worldwide,” said Simon Tovey, the London-based head of the sale. He noted that six artists made their debut onto the secondary market.

The top lot was Warhol’s Flowers (1964–65), a classic image by the artist, which sold for a mid-estimate £1.35 million ($1.9 million) with premium.

The second-highest, though far lower, price was for an untitled painting by KAWS featuring Star Wars character C3P0 sporting a signature KAWS animated head with X’s for eyes. It sold for £352,800 ($488,804), just a notch over the high £350,000 estimate.

Banksy’s Love Is In The Air screenprint (2003), depicting one of the artist’s best-known images (a masked figure about to launch a bouquet of flowers as though it were a molotov cocktail) sold for £214,200 ($296,774), also meeting its estimate including the premium. (Final prices include buyer’s premium unless otherwise noted; estimates do not.)

A new record was set for Josh Smith, an artist who works with collage, sculpture, and printmaking in a style that mixes abstraction and figuration. Though he first became recognized for canvases that depicted his own name in expressive loops and swirls, many of the recent works are of Expressionist-style palm trees against sunset backdrops.

Oli Epp Whistleblower (2017). Image courtesy Phillips.

Oli Epp Whistleblower (2017). Image courtesy Phillips.

An untitled example of this subject matter from 2014 sold for a record £214,200 ($297,000) today, clearing the high £150,000 estimate by a wide margin. The previous record of $262,500 was set in May 2019, at Sotheby’s New York, also for a palm tree and sunset image.

Whistleblower (2017), a painting by Oli Epp, a London-based artist known for his deformed and quirky figures, shattered its modest estimate of £10,0000 to £15,000 to sell for £144,900 ($200,800), and was the seventh-highest price of the night.

The sale featured a number of African artists and artists of the African diaspora, some of whose works were sold to benefit the Africa First Artist Residency Program, with almost £220,000 ($305,000) raised in total. 

As part of this group, a record was set for Simphiwe Ndzube, who is originally from Cape Town and is based in Los Angeles. Figure With a Whip Leg (2019) sold for £37,800 ($52,372).

Ndzube’s work is inspired by the South African working-class Black men’s tradition of swenking, informal competitions that are part fashion show and part dance-off. He appeared on Midnight Publishing Group News’ 2018 list of Armory Show artists to watch.

Zimbabwean artist Moffat Takadiwa’s Land of Money and Honey (2017), an assemblage of metal bottle caps and plastic on plastic cord, sold for a record £12,600 ($17,457). 

Outside of that group, there were a number of works by African artists painting in the last half decade that were sold from galleries on the primary market not long ago.

Josh Smith Untitled (2014). Image courtesy Phillips.

Josh Smith Untitled (2014). Image courtesy Phillips.

These included a painting by Zimbabwe-born, South African artist Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, KWEKWE x HARARE x CAPETOWN WHEREVER YOU’RE FROM (2015), which sold for £81,900 ($113,000), far above the high £50,000 estimate. Meanwhile, Lady in Orange (2020) by Nigerian artist Chiderah Bosah, which was acquired directly from the artist by the consigner, sold for a double estimate £17,460 ($24,000).

The sale also featured a special charitable component organized by fashion designer Stella McCartney, who, during lockdown, reached out to 26 artists, colleagues, and friends to select and visualize letters from the alphabet to create a “McCartney A to Z Manifesto.”

Each artist was given absolute freedom to reimagine their own letter and to select their own charitable cause. Hajime Sorayama selected Médecins Sans Frontières Japan and Cindy Sherman supported Planned Parenthood.

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Art Industry News: Here Are the Winning Art Projects for London’s Coveted Fourth Plinth + Other Stories

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Monday, July 5.


Trouble at the Norway Biennial – At least seven artists asked to withdraw their work from the Momentum 11 biennial in Moss, Norway, after curator Théo-Mario Coppola was fired just weeks ahead of its June 26 opening. The biennial cites Coppola’s unprofessional behavior as the reason for their dismissal, while the curator blames unfair working conditions and a lack of preparedness to execute installations from a technical perspective. Artists Marinella Senatore and Karol Radziszewski say that their works have been included in the exhibition against their wishes. (The Art Newspaper)

France Is Bringing Creatives to the U.S. – The French government is launching the Villa Albertine, a roving residency program that will give French artists around €20,000 ($23,600) each to work on projects in the U.S. But unlike the nation’s Rome residency, the Villa Medici, the new initiative doesn’t have a dedicated headquarters, which allows participants to stay in different parts of the U.S., or to travel during a one-to-three month residency. The inaugural cohort of artists includes cartoonist Quentin Zuitton, who will draw portraits of teenagers while riding the rails from New York to Los Angeles. (TAN)

The Next Fourth Plinth Artists Have Been Chosen – Artists Samson Kambalu and Teresa Margolles have been chosen to make the next two commissions for the fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2022 and 2024. Kambalu’s sculpture will re-stage a 1914 photograph of Baptist preacher and pan-Africanist John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley, and Margolles, who will create the plinth in 2024, has cast the faces of 850 trans people from London and around the world. (Press release)

Controversy Embroils Korea’s Venice Biennale Pick – The Arts Council Korea had narrowed down its choices for the nation’s pavilion at next year’s Venice Biennale to just four artists—until it was revealed that two of the finalists had worked with a member of the selection committee, creating a potential conflict of interest. That judge has been asked to step down, and the now six-member panel will restart the review process to consider all 12 applications. (Korea Times)


Banksy’s Painting With Critique on Climate-Change Fetches $6M – Banksy’s 2009 hijacked oil painting, Subject to Availability, sold for $6,342,180 at Christie’s last Wednesday. Banksy copied an 1890 painting of Mount Rainer and added his own snarky commentary on climate change to the work, writing: “*Subject to availability for a limited period only.” (Seattle Times)

A $4.42M Copy of the Declaration of Independence Breaks Records – A signer’s copy of the Declaration of Independence that was printed in the 19th century sold for $4.42 million at Freeman’s in Philadelphia. The rare document sold for more than five times its $800,000 upper estimate. (ArtfixDaily)


Sculptor Kenzi Shiokava Dies – The Brazilian-born artist, whose wooden totems inspired by Brazilian and Japanese motifs were included to much acclaim in the 2016 “Made in L.A.” biennial at the Hammer Museum, died last month at the age of 82 from chronic conditions exacerbated by a recent car accident. (Los Angeles Times)

France Returns Painting to Hugo Simon’s Heirs – The French government has returned a Max Pechstein painting to the heirs of its former owner, a Jewish banker who fled to France after the Nazis took power in 1933. The painting was in the collection of the Musée national d’art moderne in Paris. (TAN)


World Wildlife Fund Recruits Artists – The wildlife conservation group is marking its 60th anniversary with a print sale called Art for Your World, hosted by Sotheby’s London and organized by London’s Artwise Curators. The auction, running from October 8 to 15, will feature Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor, and Jadé Fadojutimi, among others. The initiative hopes to raise awareness of the potential risks to wildlife caused by climate change and rising temperatures, as illustrated in World Wildlife Fund’s recent report, “Feeling the Heat.” (ARTnews)

Futura Beats The North Face in Lawsuit – The clothing retailer North Face is in trouble after using an atom-like logo that street artist Futura says is a copy of his signature design. Futura filed a lawsuit claiming the brand purposefully invoked him in order to suggest an association. The brand denies any copyright infringement, but says it will begin to phase out its use as a gesture of goodwill, adding that it is committed to supporting artists and their communities. (Creative Bloq

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