Banksy Goes to the Museum

 

The ever changing boundaries of aesthetic and art may be acting paradoxically to turn a self-denying artist like Banksy into a celebrity. A museum in Rome, Palazzo Cipolla, has organized the largest exhibition of Banksy’s works to date. The Bristol-born street artist, has managed to remain unknown in a career that spans almost two decades. We say “unknown” for lack of a better word. Anonymous he is not, for he has become a cult artist, known by his brush name. His graffiti paintings and other works denounce the very system that has catapulted him to fame. The foundation that has organized the exhibition in Italy has made clear that the event is not for profit, and that Banksy is not involved with it. So far, so good, as is consistent with his principles. Yet the show also includes works lent by celebrities that own them, so Banksy is not alien to a market logic in his endeavors. At the same time, it is refreshing to see someone choosing secretiveness rather than personal glory, even though this very trait has turned him into a celebrity himself.

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