There is a Duke of Wellington statue outside Scotland’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), and for more than 40 years, Glaswegians have capped it with a traffic cone. When local authorities devised a scheme in 2013 to raise the statue higher so it couldn’t be reached by impromptu hatters, there was public outcry and a petition that rapidly gathered thousands of signatories. The cone stayed, a monument to the city’s playful sense of humor.
Banksy has called it his favorite work of art in the UK and a major reason why his first official show in 14 years (and there have been several unofficial ones) will be staged at the Scottish institution.
“Cut & Run”, which is on view from June 18 to August 28, takes people inside the practice and thinking of one of the world’s most famous street artists, through artworks, artefacts, and personal items—including his toilet—many of which have never been exhibited before. This intention is clear from the first room, in which visitors pass through a replica artist’s studio with a rack of spray cans and an appropriately disorganized work station.
The works on display span from 1988 to the present, with Banksy’s original stencils for some of his most famous pieces featuring prominently, ones he claims he’d long hidden for fear of being charged for criminal damages.
There’s , the 2004 black and white work of two male police officers getting intimate that first appeared outside a pub in Brighton, the U.K.’s LGBTQ+ capital. There’s his Port Talbot stencil that highlighted the region’s poor air quality with an open-armed boy playing in snow-like ash. There’s one of a young female gymnast performing a handstand from his “Borodyanka, Ukraine” series which Banksy sprayed as a protest to the country’s invasion by Russia.
“Cut & Run” presents other provocations of the non-graffiti variety, including a riot police helmet transformed into a disco ball, and the Union Jack-patterned stab vest he made for British rapper Stomzy, ahead of his 2019 Glastonbury headline slot.
Visitors are also treated to a detailed run through of , Banksy’s 2018 work that shredded itself moments after selling for $1.4 million at Sotheby’s (it sold fora whopping $25.4 million at the same auction house three years later).
— Craig Williams (@glasgowmixtape) June 15, 2023
GoMA, which is run by the city council, is understandably delighted to have been chosen as the stage for an official Banksy exhibition. “Street art has become one of Glasgow’s signatures,” councillor Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow City Council, said in a statement. “There’s no one who’s done more to put street art at the heart of culture, politics and society than Banksy. We’re delighted Banksy has chosen Glasgow to host their work.”
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