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Barely Legal

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‘Banksy: the Unauthorised Retrospective’ opens at Sotheby’s s|2 Gallery, ready for a record breaking auction. Courtesy of the artist’s former art dealer and partner in crime; Steve Lazarides

The unauthorised retrospective of Bristol’s beloved and mischievous artist Banksy, has opened to the public at Sotheby’s S|2 Gallery, ahead of what’s sure to be one of the quickest and most lucrative auctions the gallery has ever seen.

The collection features over 70 paintings, sculptures and prints, all put together by Banksy’s former right hand man, agent and art dealer Stephen Lazarides. Making Lazarides retrospective not only the first major exhibition of works by Banksy on the secondary market, but the S|2 exhibition among the biggest shows of his work ever staged.

Many of the works in the exhibition have never been seen before, having been purchased directly from Lazarides and Banksy at the moment they were produced. Others have been seen, but only very briefly. Banksus Militus Vandalus ( a stuffed rat sculpture with a mini spray can) for instance, was illegally installed by Banksy in the Natural History Museum in 2004, where it remained for a mere two hours before being spotted by officials and removed. It has only been seen once in public since then!

Prices range from £4,000 to over £500,000. The selling exhibition includes everything from signature early works such as Avon and Somerset Constabulary – an image famous from the 2000 Bristol Severnshed show – right up to the politically charged Guantanamo Bay ‘Crude Oil’ painting from Banksy’s Barely Legal show in Los Angeles in 2006.

Fru Tholstrup, Director of S|2 in London, commented: “Banksy is more than just a street artist – he is a true cultural phenomenon of our time. Although we all feel we know the images he’s produced over the years, there’s hardly ever been an opportunity to see together the full range of his best-known works. We’re also thrilled to be working with Steve Lazarides, the man who saw and cultivated this remarkable artist from the very beginning.”

banksy

Banksy, not the auction type, famously mocked Sotheby’s itself and its clients,  in an original piece he created after a six-figure auction of his work in 2007.  Following the sale, Banksy posted an image on his website showing a packed sales room bidding for the framed words “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit”.  2 prints of that original work are also up for auction in Lazarides retrospective.

Steven Lazarides however is not the first to sell the artists work without his consent. The recent highly controversial auction ‘Stealing Banksy’, planned by the Sincura Group in London a few months back,  was cancelled. Having caused outrage throughout the street art community. The auction included the sale of Banksy’s public works on walls, doors, etc. that had been dismantled or removed, causing a furious debate about the ethos behind not only the authenticity but what is the public’s property, the publics art, and who should profit. The Sincura group has since retracted its plan, and said the pieces were removed to be restored and protected not to be sold for large sums of cash.

Speaking on this Lazarides comments  “I think it’s morally wrong to take these pieces off the streets,” he said. “They were put there for the general public, not for one person to take away. I think London is the poorer for the loss of all these pieces. As for the argument that they’re being removed to protect them, that’s just bullshit.”

All pieces included in Lazaride’s retrospective were originally produced for sale. Although he and Banky parted ways a few years back, Lazarides know’s how to put on a good show and remains more or less loyal to Banksy and the brand. Taking fans and buyers thru a slick span of Banksy’s prolific rise, he presents the work with a great tone of respect, despite the obvious monetary motive of course!

Commenting on whether or not he and Banksy have spoke about  Lazarides said“I emailed his people, they know. Not pleased,”

BANKSY: The Unauthorised Retrospective
Sotheby’s S|2 Gallery, London
11 June 2014 – 25 July 2014
www.sothebys.com

 

Words by Tracy Kawalik

Photos & Video Courtesy of Sotheby’s, and S|2

Image Credits: UFO signed; signed and dated Aug 06 on the reverse (i) oil on canvas, in artist’s frame (ii) oil on aluminium (i) 110 by 141cm.; 43. by 55.in. (ii) 31 by 51cm.; 12. by 20in.; overall: 141 by 141cm.; 55. by 55.in. This work is unique. EXHIBITED Los Angeles

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