Street art meets Munich high society. Top pieces by elusive British graffiti artist Banksy went on display in the German city on Thursday (April 14) evening as the Galerie Kronsbein played host to an exhibition of his works.
Guerilla-style creation of art works are Banksy's trademark. Social criticism, political statements, irony - that's how his "urban art" can be described which critically scrutinises current affairs. Art that claims it never wants to be commercial -- and yet, Banksy murals sell for several hundred thousand dollars in auctions.
Munich gallery owner Dirk G. Kronsbein took the gamble - showing British street art in Munich's high society - and brought the world's best-known unknown to his gallery.
Kronsbein already owns 45 Banksy works, including some originals. He said the political message of all of Banksy's statements of art have captivated him.
"He does it in order to stimulate the public to think about certain political issues," the gallery owner told Reuters TV. "To put that in those pictures and hang them on the wall, that makes it much easier (to understand). Because he does it in so many different locations, and here we see it in one place in concentrated form."
Banksy is the pseudonym of a graffiti artist who first emerged in Bristol, England, as part of an underground group of street artists. He hides his identity and real name, and his works are highly sought after by art collectors.
Banksy gained fame in the 1990s in London and Bristol with his stencilled works with provocative, ironic social commentary on buildings. He has become popular on the international auction circuit alongside Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst.
"I can't believe you morons actually buy this s--t" is written in large letters on one of his 45 works of art, a sign of Banksy's criticism of the development of the world-wide art market. According to Sarah Kronsbein, the owner's daughter who now runs the gallery, Banksy has withdrawn himself from dealing in art, he only sells to collectors.
"Well, he does not create that value-added chain and he is not behind it. Quite the opposite, he dissociates himself from it," said Sarah Kronsbein.
"He just passed on his works and statements to people who share a similar mindset, and with that he funds his projects. I find that completely legitimate. You have to get the money from somewhere if you want to travel to the Gaza Strip and the team behind it has to live somehow as well," she added.
According to Kronsbein, all Banksy works are part of his private collection and not for sale.
"Banksy - King of Urban Art" is set to run until September 10, 2016.