Banksy Show Issuing Refunds Because It’s Mostly Fake Banksy Works

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Miserlou Behind The Aperture via Flickr

You may have seen a recent onslaught of Facebook ads and advance publicity for a Banksy show coming to San Francisco, called The Art of Banksy (opening November 22, at a supposedly “secret location” in SF). That show is not to be confused with a rival unauthorized traveling Banksy show entitled Banksy: Genius or Vandal, that just opened in New York and is coming to Los Angeles. And that show is not to be confused with The Art of Banksy: Without Limits, that’s scheduled to arrive next month in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Miami, and is currently open in Seoul, South Korea.

Image: Alan Trotter via Flickr

But a disappointing discovery casts a different light on all three traveling, unauthorized Banksy shows. ArtNet reports that “An unauthorized Banksy exhibition in Seoul has come under fire from visitors disappointed that the vast majority of the works on view were reproductions, rather than original works of art by the anonymous British street artist.”

Image: gwolf via Flickr

That art publication adds that “of the 150 artworks on view in Seoul, only 27 are originals, according to the Korea Herald, prompting reviews complaining that “it is a pity that the show did not specify that most of works are replicas.”

That show is now issuing refunds, but they’ve already made a killing. According to ArtNet, “It’s been touring since its 2016 debut in Istanbul, and has visited 11 countries, reportedly attracting over 1 million visitors.”

Image: chris_ford_uk via Flickr

To be clear, that is not the show that is coming to San Francisco in November. But even the show coming to San Francisco, organized by Banksy’s former art dealer, does not feature the original graffiti works. As ArtNet explains, it’s “predominantly screen prints—not the illegal graffiti paintings that invariably captivate the internet whenever they pop up in the wild.”

In other words, unlike the Diego Rivera mural at the SFMOMA, they did not move the original work from walls, it’s more like a collection of numbered prints.

Image: prestoncovillaud via Flickr

And of course, Banksy himself hates these traveling, unauthorized shows that Museum on Ice Cream-ify his works into VR goggle “immersive experiences,” wall projections, and the corporate-run “get ‘em in, get ‘em out” assembly line approach to looking at art.

“Members of the public should be aware there has been a recent spate of Banksy exhibitions none of which are consensual,” Banksy wrote on his website. “They‘ve been organised entirely without the artist’s knowledge or involvement. Please treat them accordingly.”

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Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.


  1. Irene X
    September 1, 2021 at 1:33 pm — Reply

    You missed a great opportunity to call the replicas ‘Fanksy’ works. That is all. Love your work.
    Have a good day,
    Irene X

  2. September 1, 2021 at 9:31 pm — Reply

    Ha! This sounds almost like a Mr. Brainwash type thing a-la Exit Through the Gift Shop. And you’re right about Banksy’s site outing all of the fake exhibitions:

  3. Mark
    September 5, 2021 at 5:00 am — Reply

    Lest we forget Basquiat? All street level art that rises to the attention of the media, and then the public, is chopped up and commodified at some point.

    And consider: Banksy had an art dealer at some point? Well, what do you expect, Banksy? It is easy to take offense, granted. It is your art. But, after you have entered into the slipstream that is granting access to your humble art (and a ‘dealer’, in all forms, implies patronage. permission, or at least payment), you are also partially to blame.

    As to the issue of paying to view facsimiles of originals? That would be called a simulacrum. Baudrillard covered the issues with that years ago. And, to those paying, if they didn’t realized they weren’t going to remove chunks of walls, they are then at least comfortable in their not-knowing, comfortable enough to pay some coin to see a copy. Their choice. If you did know and still went. Same. Your choice.

    Banksy has always struck me as a bit too Wes Anderson, a touch too invested in not being invested. At least Duchamp was willing to thumb people’s noses when he ‘produced’ the majestic “Fountain.” Talk about really ‘taking a piss’ on all the pomposity that surrounds art and its variegated dealings!

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