For every art movement in the past century, there has been one seminal exhibition; one show that that has opened the floodgates of interest from critics, collectors, and copycats. For Pop Art, it was the American Supermarket show; for contemporary installation art, it was the Young British Artists shows. For graffiti and street art, that exhibition was Barely Legal. It was 2006, it was Los Angeles, and it was an exhibition of works by Banksy in a warehouse that turned the art world on its ear almost instantaneously. The “Barely Legal Print Set,” as six particular Banksy street art prints are known, are the most coveted artworks by Banksy from the exhibition. They are also the most rare and valuable screen print sets in urban art.
The iconic Barely Legal Print Set began production in July 2006 when Banksy approached respected Los Angeles printmaker Richard Duardo of Modern Multiples about creating new original works for his September exhibition. Duardo had been recommended to Banksy by fellow street artist Shepard Fairey. After securing the job, the late Duardo recounted that he did not hear again from Banksy until 10 days prior to the exhibition, when he flew into Los Angeles with his artwork ready for reproduction. The Modern Multiples team worked tirelessly for the next week producing six prints in editions of 100 each, with six Printer’s Proofs per image that were signed by Banksy and embossed with the insignia of Pictures On Walls, Banksy’s UK-based printer of record. There was originally supposed to be a seventh print depicting an aristocrat being hit in the face with a pie, but the print was dropped to due time constraints and the print’s complexity for color layers.
The Bansky artwork Destroy Capitalism is one of the most darkly humorous screen prints created by the street artist. In the image, individuals form a queue to a merchandise booth, presumably at a music festival. The people in the queue are those who most people would consider to be “anti-capitalists” — punks, hippies, freegans, leftist university students. The irony here is that the t-shirt they are all queueing up to buy reads “Destroy Capitalism” — a slogan that has been neatly commercialized to fit the consumer trends of this audience.
This irony reached hilarious proportions in 2013 when Walmart, the largest retail employer in the world and the very picture of capitalist ideals, sold a series of Banksy Destroy Capitalism posters to consumers — at a markup, of course. Banksy is said have remarked, “People who enjoy waving flags don’t deserve to have one.” Let your freak flag fly, eh?
When Barely Legal opened to the public on September 16, 2006, it was enormously well-attended by arts aficionados, curious museum curators, and a list of celebrities from Angelina Jolie to Jude Law. Among the highlights of the exhibition were an Indian elephant painted to match brocade wallpaper, a graffiti-covered van, and numerous paintings and installations. Banksy sold the unsigned prints for $500 apiece. After the show ended, Pictures On Walls ordered Modern Multiples to destroy the plates for the Barely Legal Print Set. Pictures On Walls produced their own limited edition run of the set in late 2006 with 50 signed and 100 unsigned editions of each print. Many sets were broken up at that time and over the years as Banksy’s value rose, and to possess a matched set is a very rare and wonderful acquisition indeed. Barely Legal spurred the first major museum exhibitions of street art, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles’ Art In The Streets, which is the institution’s highest attendance exhibition to date.
If you would like to sell your Banksy art, the Barely Legal Print Set is a moment in history and are extremely rare, desirable, and profitable limited edition urban art prints. If you would like to buy a Barely Legal Print Set, both the Modern Multiples editions and the Pictures On Walls editions are highly rare, especially in a set. To purchase a signed set or a signed matched set is to own a part of Banksy’s artistic legacy at a groundbreaking point in his development, as well as the point in time that graffiti and urban art became worthy of critical consideration. Hexagon Gallery is the leader for Banksy art sales in the United States. To sell or buy Banksy art, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.