Against his will: works by street artist Stik on display in Munich | Arts | DW | 07.04.2017
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Against his will: works by street artist Stik on display in Munich

Heralded as the latest Banksy, street artist Stik is at the center of a new exhibition in Munich - the first of its kind in Germany, but one being held without the artist's consent.

In Great Britain, he's been heralded as the latest Banksy. At least that's what the Galerie Kronsbein in Munich has said about Stik in its marketing program for its exhibition of his work. It's the first of its kind in Germany - and held without the artist's consent.

Galerie Kronsbein in Munich specializes in urban and pop art. The gallery has displayed works by big name pop artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Tom Wesselmann. Since 2013, the owner of the gallery has brought street art into Munich's chic inner city, featuring works by Banksy, Blek Le Rat and now, Stik.

The stick figures that the street artist Stik has become famous for adorn many prominent places on the streets of London. His "Single Mum" is a work of art that one might catch a glimpse of when landing at Heathrow airport: the mother with baby has decorated a 40-meter-high wall in the neighborhood of South Acton. The location is symbolic; it appears on the side of a social housing project that is in desperate need of repair.

"Affordable housing is under threat in Great Britain," Stik commented about the work, saying that "everyone needs a roof over their heads."

True to street art's anti-commercialization ethos

He is a socially-oriented political critic who distances himself from commercialization - like many of his fellow colleagues in the street art scene.

On his website, Stik has distanced himself from the exhibition: if his works are sold, 100 percent of the profits go directly to the community. Private sales of his works is not something he condones or supports. "STIK has no commercial or other relationship with Galerie Kronsbein and he does not endorse the exhibition being held at the gallery nor will he be appearing," reads an entry on his website.

However, Galerie Kronsbein told DW in a statement that it had legally purchased the artist's works and Stik's approval was therefore unnecessary. 

Nevertheless, it is not the first time the gallery has put on a show of works without the artist's support. Banksy knew nothing of the 2016 exhibition at the Kronsbein Galerie, which had promoted the event as the "first comprehensive presentation of his works in Germany." French street art pioneer Blek Le Rat, however, appeared personally at a 2016 exhibition of his work there.

The commercialization of street art is, in most cases, inextricably opposite its original philosophy. Political protests are not something that can be framed and hung on a wall. The effect and momentum is something that can only unfold on the street.

Click through the gallery above for a brief history of street art.

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