It’s early Saturday afternoon and I’m in Laren, an old, affluent arty town some 30km southeast of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
I’m here to attend a Banksy exhibition, something that I find a little absurd. How can you take a street artist and put them indoors, restrained and commercialised? It seems almost to be bad form. And yet, here I am supporting it, kinda.
It just so happens that the day I’ve chosen to visit is the day that the Lionel Gallery have spread out the red carpet, trayed up the champagne flutes and parked a Maserati and a Ferrari on the driveway. It’s some sort of open day.
I am sporting a black hoodie and scuffed shoes. I have seen better days. In terms of dress code, I am definitely not the one expected to walk down the red carpet and part with big money, but not wishing to judge (or more likely, not wishing to miss out on a sale should I just happen to be one of the rich who likes to look like a scruff) the gallery staff treat me with the same niceties as all the suited and trendy media types who are mingling around me.
Banksy prints are dotted around this small gallery. The Bristol legend is sharing the stage predominantly with Basquiat, but I also notice gilded butterflies by Damien Hirst and some typically lavish LaChapelle prints added to the mix. There’s even a solo Picasso piece, tucked around the corner. An unexpected treat.
The pièce de résistance is an original Banksy, a spray can depiction, stenciled Fragile and framed. Banksy captured. There’s blind bidding taking place for this modern art piece, and some chats later I realise that:
- There is a whole different breed out there who collect art purely for investment;
- I would kinda love to hang a Banksy, but even original prints without a signature start at over US$8,500 and I’m really not that bothered about the spray can; and
- I’m not really sure how I feel about Banksy being commodified, put INSIDE and made exclusive. Street art? High art? Money art?
Months later, other than the fact that I like some of Banksy’s social commentary, I’m still not sure what to think.
And, to make matters worse, I never did get a glass of that champagne.
Show me some Melbourne street art (travelola.org)
8 responses to “On the Banksy trail in some random little art town in the Netherlands”
I think that if Banksy feels good about being commodified, why would you object? Social commentary pays, apparently.
Fair comment. But do you reckon he does feel good about it? – especially when you hear stories like the following where a piece of wall is ripped out in order to garner profit. http://metro.co.uk/2013/06/03/banksys-slave-labour-sells-for-more-than-750000-at-private-london-auction-3826422/
Since I haven’t read any comment by Banksy himself, I can’t say much about it.
Fair enough 🙂
“Money Art” – that’s a great term! The whole purpose of street art is to covertly decorate and great challenging images to confront everyday life. It’s not a “gallery” type of art but has become that because it’s the most interesting thing in the art world right now.
I think Banksy himself hates that his work is so expensive. You should definitely watch his movie “Exit Through the Gift Shop”. It is a complete satire of the art world’s obsession with art as investment told as if a documentary. Brilliant!
Interesting points. Thanks for contributing to the discussion! With regards to the film, I have yet to watch it. I’ve heard about it and now you’ve reminded me so maybe now is the time to get on to that. 🙂
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