LONDON (AFP) - The first - and unauthorised - retrospective exhibition of works by the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy is going on show in London next week ahead of a major auction sale.
More than 70 original paintings, sculptures and prints are going on display on Wednesday at S2, the gallery of Sotheby's auction house, though the incognito artist himself is far from pleased.
"Banksy knows about the exhibition and he is not particularly happy about it," curator Steve Lazarides told AFP.
"There hasn't been a collection of Banksy this large put together. I think there will be a lot of interest from the general public.
"We spent 15 years trying to get the (art) scene taking it seriously and it's almost like a validation," said Lazarides, who was Banksy's agent when he started out.
Prices for the career-spanning artworks range from £4,000 (S$8,400) to more than £500,000.
Some of the early canvases on show were originally sold for £50.
Banksy exhibitions have been put together before, but this is the first retrospective collection, meant to represent key works throughout the artist's rise.
They include Bombing Middle England (2000), Monkey Queen (2001), Paranoid Pictures (2003), Pulp Fiction (2004), Kate Moss (2005), and Sunflowers From Petrol Station (2005).
From Bristol in south-west England, and his real identity still a mystery, Banksy often subverts classic images and includes slogans critical of war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed.
Some pieces have never been seen before, having been bought as soon as they were produced.
Others have been seen briefly, such as Banksus Militus Vandalus (2004), which was illegally installed in London's Natural History Museum.
Officials spotted it and removed it within two hours, and it has only been seen once in public since then.
"Banksy is more than just a street artist - he is a true cultural phenomenon of our time," said S2 director Fru Tholstrup.
"Although we all feel we know the images he's produced over the years, there's hardly ever been an opportunity to see together the full range of his best-known works."
The gallery is expecting tens of thousands of people through its doors between Wednesday and July 25.