Banksy’s Shredded Artwork Will Hang Among Museum Masterpieces in Stuttgart, But Visitors Will Have to Search for It

Visitors will have to seek out "Love is in the Bin," which will move around the halls of the Stuttgart Staatsgalerie, hiding among its Rembrandts and Picassos.

Banksy's Love is in the bin. Photo by Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Media via Getty Images.

Banksy’s high-profile, half-shredded, $1.4 million work has found a long-term home at a prestigious German art gallery. The now-infamous artwork will be displayed in the Stuttgart Staatsgalerie beginning March 7—but visitors will have to hunt for the street artist’s work among the gallery’s Old Masters and Modern masterworks.

The owner of the work, which Banksy renamed Love is in the Bin following his viral auction stunt, agreed to permanently loan the work to the gallery after it has a brief stint at the Museum Frieder Burda in the spa town of Baden-Baden, also in Germany.

In its new home, the anarchic work will migrate around the galleries, so visitors wanting to see it will have to seek it out. “Searching for Banksy, is this not what everybody is doing at the moment?” a spokesperson for the museum tells artnet News. According to the museum, the tactic is a fitting way to engage with Banksy’s art, which typically pops up unexpectedly and is often hidden. Banksy himself has also long tried to conceal his identity (although there are plenty of theories). “Even the identity of his collectors worldwide remains mysterious,” reads a museum statement. 

The work famously self-destructed at a Sotheby’s auction in London last October, just after it hammered at over $1 million. The unnamed female European collector with the winning bid decided to keep this piece of art history despite its newly partially shredded state. “We want to ask for the relevance of the work in a long-time context, in contrast with the current hype of the art market,” the museum spokesperson says. “Are the ideas of Banksy strong enough to compete with key works of art history from Rembrandt to Duchamp and from Holbein to Picasso?”

“We appreciate the noble gesture of the collector to give the work to a public collection,” the Stuttgart museum director, Christiane Lange, said in a statement. “We feel it is our duty to discuss current issues in the context of museum presentations, as in the current exhibition on Marcel Duchamp.” 

Before it appears in Stuttgart, Banksy’s work is due to go on show at another German museum. While at Baden-Baden’s Frieder Burda Museum from February 5 through March 3, it will be the subject of a talk titled “Can the strategies of the art market be torpedoed while adding to fuel to its fire?”

The Stuttgart museum aims to continue the critical discourse, looking at how Banksy’s work holds up in the broader context of art history. The Banksy effect on the visitor numbers—and the gift shop—will also be welcome. The Staatsgalerie’s director made a point of mentioning that it offers free admission on Wednesdays.

The museum’s existing collection comprises works spanning the 14th century to the present. As it moves around the galleries, the Banksy, the museum states,will have to assert itself as a permanent loan against key works of art history from Rembrandt to Duchamp and from Holbein to Picasso,” ultimately posing the question: Can Banksy officially be canonized in a museum?

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