Banksy has had an established secondary market for more than 15 years, with many works of all types (originals, editions, and prints) hitting the auction block with regularity. All the major auction houses have been including Banksy’s works in their auctions for many years at this stage of the game. Banksy has been setting and subsequently breaking many auction records since 2020, and it might be only a sign of more to come given that established a new record for himself in 2021 – crossing the $20 million threshold for the first time with his artwork dedicated to health-care workers during COVID, Game Changer.
29 artworks by Banksy sold at public auction over USD 1 million so far…
Naturally, most of these have occurred in the recent past, including 9 times in 2020, and already 13 in 2021 thus far. Said differently, 21 of the 26 times that one of Banksy’s artwork sold at public auction for more than $1 million have taken place between 2020 and June 2021… Obviously this number is now almost increasing by the day…
Interestingly enough, Banksy broke the $1 million threshold as early as 2008, with Keep It Spotless, a defaced Damien Hirst Painting, and again with Simple Intelligence Testing. One should also underline that among those paintings, a few have been donated to various charities in order to raise funds for good causes.
GBP 16,758,000 / USD 23,210,000
Christie’s London, 23 March 2021
On 6 May 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a painting entitled Game Changer appeared at University Hospital Southampton. In crisp, linear detail, it showed a young boy playing with a selection of superhero dolls.
Game Changer, 2020
Oil on canvas, 91×91 cm (35 7/8 x 35 7/8 inches)
Signed “BANKSY” (lower right)
This is a fine example of Banksy using his talent and platform to advance a philanthropic effort. He gifted the canvas to Southampton General Hospital, and the proceeds from the sale will be used to support the wellbeing of the University Hospital’s staff and patients.
“Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.”
In Game Changer, Batman and Spiderman lie discarded in a bin; instead, the child clutches his new idol – a new superhero, better than the ones we see on TV and in cinema. A masked, uniformed nurse soars to the rescue, her cape fluttering and arm outstretched towards the sky. The picture was accompanied by a note that read:
Love Is In The Air
Sotheby’s New-York, 12 May 2021
Love is in the Air is a quintessential Banksy painting: instantly recognizable, the image has become synonymous with the artist’s indelible graphic style, wry humor and galvanizing political commentary. Banksy’s subject adopts the archetypal pose of civic unrest, preparing to hurl a brick or bomb towards an unseen foe,
Love Is In the Air, 2005
Oil and spray-paint on canvas
90x90 cm (35 3/8 x 36 3/8 inches)
In Love Is In The Air, Banksy replaces his projectile with a bunch of flowers, disarming this image of violent unrest to create a work that is both a call for change and advocation of peace. This work was notably chosen to be illustrated in Banksy’s 2005 monograph, Wall and Piece, and the street intervention upon which it is based was chosen for the front cover.
Flower Thrower, Jerusalem, 2003
One of the artist’s most cherished works on canvas, further distinguished by the inclusion of hand painted flowers in oil, Love is in the Air is a work that reminds us of the injustice and inequality that exists around us, and offers a simple message of hope. It is indisputable that this bold and declarative work helped to establish Banksy’s place in art history, cementing his reputation as a pivotal and universally heard artistic voice.
GBP 9,879,500 / USD 12,243,772
Sotheby’s London, 3 October 2019
Banksy’s largest known canvas (measuring more than 4 meters wide), Devolved Parliament, features chimpanzees sitting in place of the politicians in the House of Commons. Despite being painted in 2009, many commentators have drawn comparisons to current-day politics, and the chaos witnessed in the House of Commons over Brexit.
Devolved Parliament, 2009
Oil on canvas in artist’s frame
250×420 cm (98 3/8 x 165 3/8 inches)
“I made this 10 years ago. Bristol museum have just put it back on display to mark Brexit day. Laugh now, but one day no one will be in charge.’
Devolved Parliamentwas first unveiled as part of the Banksy vs Bristol Museum exhibit in 2009, and was loaned back to the Bristol Museum in March 2019, marking both the exhibit’s 10th anniversary and Britain’s original planned exit from the EU on 29 March 2019.
Show Me The Monet
GBP 7,551,600 / USD 10,320,000
Sotheby’s London, 21 October 2020
Show me the Monetis one of the most iconic paintings of Banksy’s illustrious career. It is an extremely rare, entirely hand-painted canvas that helped establish Banksy’s position as the controversial and decisive social commentator that we all know and love. It was one of the masterpieces exhibited at Banksy’s landmark 2005 exhibition Crude Oils: A Gallery of Re-mixed Masterpieces, Vandalism and Vermin.
Show Me The Monet, 2005
Oil on canvas in artist’s frame
143.1×143.4 cm (56 3/8 x 56 1/2 inches)
Banksy repurposes an iconic image in the western canon: Claude Monet’s career-defining view of the Japanese footbridge in his water garden at Giverny. With its tongue-in-cheek pun of a title, Banksy’s painstakingly observed re-painting delivers a complex dialogue that tackles prescient issues of our time, such as the environment and the capitalist landscape of our contemporary moment, not to mention the art establishment and its ongoing identity crisis.
With a sumptuously rendered orange traffic cone and a thickly textured shopping trolley disrupting the romance of Monet’s iconic Impressionist masterpiece, Banksy’s version is more twenty-first century fly-tipping spot than timeless idyll. Delivered with the ironic dead-pan immediacy of a punchline, the underlying conceptual complexity at stake here belies its humor. Claude Monet’s iconic images of the Japanese Bridge spanning the lily pond of his lush garden at Giverny are some of the most recognizable images in art history.
Forgive Us Our Trespassing
Sotheby’s Hong-Kong, 6 October 2020
Towering at seven meters in height, Banksy’s monumentalForgive Us Our Trespassing(created in 2011) is the largest known work by the anonymous street artist. The piece is a powerfully resplendent vision – unabashedly brazen while still deeply poignant.
Forgive Us Our Trespassing, 2011
Acrylic, spray-paint and marker pens on wooden panels, in four parts
Overall 655×421 cm (257 7/8 x 165 3/4 inches)
While the widely recognizable image of the kneeling boy, accompanied by the title Forgive Us Our Trespassing, first appeared in 2010, the present 7-meter work was created in 2011. Making the piece even more interesting is the fact that more than one hundred 6th-9th grade students at the City of Angels School in Los Angeles contributed to the work. The project was aimed to encourage children to create art – showing us yet again that Banksy’s heart is always in the right place.
The students assisted in tagging the stained-glass windows, Forgive Us Our Trespassinggoes to the very heart of the spirit of street art and graffiti. The imagery itself, on the other hand, is a potent and moving revelation of Banksy’s conflicted feelings about being a graffiti artist, speaking to deep preoccupations and pathos that underscore his artistic production.
Subject to Availability
GBP 4,582,500 / USD 6,350,000 Christie’s London, 30 June 2021
Witty, satirical and timely, Subject to Availability is an important work from Banksy’s celebrated series of vandalized oil paintings. Hijacking an 1890 painting of Mount Rainier in Seattle by the German-American artist Albert Bierstadt, Banksy inserts an asterisk next to the dormant volcano at the center of the composition, captioning it ‘*subject to availability for a limited period only’.
Subject To Availability, 2009
Oil on canvas in artist’s frame
159.5 x 202.3 cm (62 3/4 x 86 3/4 inches)
Subject to Availability neatly juxtaposes environmental destruction and the vandalization of art. The latter has been a key element of Banksy’s practice for nearly two decades, fueled by a desire to liberate creative expression from the lofty bonds of institutional reverence. Having garnered attention as a police-dodging graffiti artist after moving from Bristol to London at the turn of the millennium, he embarked upon a series of pranks that brought the spirit of his urban interventions into the halls of galleries and museums.
Sale Ends Today
Christie’s Hong-Kong, 24 May 2021
Created in 2006, Sale Ends Today plays out Banksy’s irreverent humor on epic scale. Across a vast white canvas more than four meters wide, he uses his trademark stencil technique to depict four kneeling women, who variously pray, collapse or throw up their hands in attitudes of lament.
Sale Ends Today, 2006
Oil on canvas
213.4 x 426.7 cm (84×168 inches)
Created in 2006, Sale Ends Today plays out Banksy’s irreverent humor on epic scale. Across a vast white canvas more than four meters wide, he uses his trademark stencil technique to depict four kneeling women, who variously pray, collapse or throw up their hands in attitudes of lament. Wearing voluminous robes and veils, they would be at home as mourners in an Old Masterly portrayal of the deposition of Christ. Rather than the messiah, however, the object of the women’s distress is a more secular icon: a large red sign with white block capitals reading ‘SALE ENDS TODAY.’ With this wry parody of art history’s most storied subject matter, Banksy makes a biting comment on contemporary consumerism, which, he implies, rivals the zeal of religious devotion.
Original Concept For Barely Legal Poster (After Demi Moore)
GBP 2,677,000 / USD 3,670,000
Sotheby’s London, 25 March 2021
Created in 2006 and used as the poster image for the artist’s landmark LA exhibition in September that year, Original Concept for Barely Legal Poster (After Demi Moore) is Banksy at his most outrageous. Featured on advertisements pasted around the city in the days leading up to the exhibition, this image was the perfect emblem for Banksy’s breakthrough US show: Barely Legal.
Original Concept for Barely Legal Poster (after Demi Moore), 2006
Spray-paint and emulsion on canvas
213 x 137.5 cm (83 7/8 x 54 inches)
As the ultimate tongue-in-cheek symbol for his LA show, the present work on canvas takes on one of the most famous and controversial images of Hollywood celebrity: Demi Moore’s iconic 1991 Vanity Fair cover. Featuring the idiosyncratic monkey mask – a disguise associated with Banksy himself and familiar to well-known images of the notoriously anonymous artist – this mischievous and brazen parody utterly encapsulates the daring humor at the heart of the artist’s breakthrough exhibition.
Here an iconic image of contemporary celebrity finds subversion and a new purpose at the hands of one of the most important artistic voices of our time; its imagery standing as a perfect symbol for what is considered Banksy’s most significant exhibition to date.
GBP 2,435,000 / USD 3,370,000
Sotheby’s London, 29 June 2021
A majority of Banksy’s works available on the market have been executed on canvas. The artist is at his best when combining his scathing, jet-black humor with a material that reflects the aesthetic of urban life and the authenticity of his intentions. Outside of the Think Tank series on metal panels commissioned by the pop band Blur, examples of his signature stencils on metal are incredibly rare and highly sought after.
Laugh Now, 2006
Spray-paint on metal
129.5 x 91 cm (51 x 35 7/8 inches)
Signed and datedon the reverse
With a full and detailed stencil composition articulated in a wider than usual range of spray-painted tones and on large scale also unusual for this motif, this unique painting on metal is an exceptional and quintessential example of Banksy’s work. This piece also possesses an unparalleled exhibition history having made its debut in the artist’s paradigm-shifting LA exhibition, Barely Legal: a street-art take-over warehouse extravaganza that is today considered the most important exhibition of the artist’s career to date. In its raw immediacy and use of a found-industrial material as the painting’s ground we are reminded of the central paradoxes of Banksy’s career: at once poignant and pun-fueled, he toes the line between vandal and creator, creating works of acerbic impact that advocate for the marginalized in society. Simultaneously at the center of the art world and entirely apart from it, he is, at once, the most famous artist working today and an anonymous outsider.
The chimpanzee or monkey is one of the most powerful motifs in Banksy’s arsenal. The present motif first made an appearance in 2001 in one of Banksy’s first ‘exhibitions’, a showing of work staged under a railway bridge on Rivington Street in Shoreditch. Slump-shouldered and forlorn, Banksy’s chimp offers viewers the following maxim: ‘Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge’. Cartoon comedy quickly turns into biting social critique in Banksy’s hands as he invokes Charles Darwin’s theory of man’s evolution.
Gas Mask Boy
GBP 2,200,500 / USD 3,030,000
Phillips London, 15 April 2021
Gas Mask Boy portrays a crouched young boy wearing a respirator mask. The screen of his respirator reflects the ethereal vision of a blooming field… This work contains some of the conceptual paradoxes Banksy has become most known and recognized for, including the dichotomy between air toxicity and landscape purity, a subject of resounding relevance in today’s escalating climate crisis. Beside the young protagonist is the spray painted outline of a flower — perhaps the boy’s attempt at painting a meadow, as reflected on his mask.
Gas Mask Boy, 2009
Spray-paint and oil on wood
92.5 x 72 cm (36 3/8 x 28 3/8 inches)
Particularly poignant in the present work, the gas mask has been a recurring symbol in Banksy’s iconography. Evidently a tool to disguise his likeness (Banksy has, to this day, still not been visually identified), the mask furthermore contains fringe associations that transform it into a message of subversion in itself.
In Gas Mask Boy, the artist aims his critique at the policing of graffiti art on an elementary level, but also at the environmental damage imposed upon younger generations, which might lead them to eventually lose sight of flowering meadows and be forced into masks for sanitary protection.
Girl with Balloon
GBP 2,072,000 / USD 2,870,000
Sotheby’s London, 29 June 2020
Girl and Balloon, first realized in 2003, is without a doubt one of the most iconic images of the 21st century. Instantly recognizable, its enduring success lies within the ease with which it has been disseminated and reproduced online by a new, tech-savvy generation of art lovers. Despite this, its earliest renditions on the streets of London have been lost, and the present series of canvases from 2003 and the subsequent prints released the following year are the only concrete testimony to the work’s appeal.
Girl with Balloon, 2003
Spray-paint on canvas
40.5×40.5 cm (16×16 inches)
Stenciled with the artist’s name, and numbered 24/25
With its striking simplicity and raw immediacy, Girl with Balloon, 2003, is one of the most widely recognizable images by the anonymous and world renowned artist Banksy. Unlike the other editioned iterations of this famous motif, the present example belongs to a rare silkscreen edition 25 artist’s proofs. Beating Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire, Constable’s The Hay Wain and Hockney’s A Bigger Splash to the top spot, Banksy’s Girl with Balloon was voted the nation’s favorite artwork in a 2017 poll; a resounding affirmation of the broad and wide reaching popularity of this undeniably iconic and culturally formidable image. This accolade was further compounded by the dramatic live ‘shredding’ event at Sotheby’s in October 2018 which notoriously turned a Girl with Balloon canvas into Love is in the Bin – a work that dominated headlines the world over, taking the art world by storm and has since been exhibited at the Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden and more recently at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. It’s impact on the latter’s visitor numbers was substantial, and further reinforces the power of this image and its mysterious author.
Instantly gettable, Banksy’s graffiti image is a perfect encapsulation of human emotion for the fast-pace of our social media age: it seditiously pokes fun at high-minded art world savoir faire and in doing so appeals to many, for whom it represents a contemporary expression of sanctity, a bright and vivid symbol of hope everlasting. Ultimately, however, Girl with Balloon is the supreme icon within Banksy’s canon of motifs: whether you are for or against him, this image utterly encapsulates the immediacy and controversy surrounding the artist’s mission.
Sorry The Lifestyle You Ordered Is Currently Out Of Stock
Sotheby’s New-York, 28 October 2020
Sorry The Lifestyle you Ordered is Currently Out of Stockis a Damien Hirst Pharmaceutical (spot) painting which Banksy has defaced. It is the second time a Defaced Hirst appeared at auction, Keep It Spotless, featuring an iconic Banksy‘s stencil of a maid sold at auction in 2008 already for a record price.
Sorry The Lifestyle You Ordered Is Currently Out of Stock (Defaced Hirst), 2013-2014
Spray paint, emulsion and household gloss on canvas
99.1×114.3 cm (39×45 inches)
This time Banksy takes another angle using an expression he has been widely sharing all along his career, attaching it to a “lifestyle”, which is not only a criticism against consumerism, but also against the way art collectors might be purchasing artworks, not for their artistic qualities, but rather for what they mean in terms of lifestyle…
Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be In Charge
Sotheby’s Hong-Kong, 18 June 2021
Born and bred in Bristol, Banksy has achieved a now legendary status that teeters between acclaim and notoriety for his distinctive style of satirical street art and graffiti. His work is rich in dark humor and frequently captioned with subversive epigrams that provide pejorative commentaries on socio-political aspects of contemporary life.
Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be In Charge, 2000
Acrylic and spray-paint on canvas
61×61 cm (24×24 inches)
Christie’s New-York, 11 May 2021
Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be in Charge contains one of the most celebrated motifs used by the enigmatic British artist known as Banksy. Rising to fame in the 1990s, the much-lauded and mischievous instigator uses biting imagery—including his iconic chimpanzees—to create political and social commentary in his signature stenciled form. The present work is a prime example of Banksy’s mixture of wry wit and biting criticism on contemporary society.
Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be In Charge, 2002
Spray-paint and emulsion on paperboard
76×102 cm (30 x 41 1/8 inches)
Powerful for its ability to exist in the street and gallery simultaneously, Banksy’s work consistently proves that he is inspired by the very pulse of modern life. “…he is making art that penetrates the public consciousness; art that is in the world, not detached from it; art that raises questions that need an airing… Banksy makes art that, as Hamlet said, holds ‘…the mirror up to nature: to show virtue her feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure’” (W. Gompertz,” BBC News, October 13, 2018). The artist’s ability of cutting to the heart of contemporary issues for decades has made him a household name, even while his true identity remains unknown.
Christie’s Hong-Kong, 21 May 2021
In Hummingbird, Banksy makes a poignant claim for the importance of graffiti—and of art at large—by invoking the vitality of the natural world. Within a battered gold frame, he depicts a section of concrete wall daubed, splashed and sprayed with paint: the central white splash is improvised into a flower with the addition of a black-sprayed stem and pair of leaves.
Fiberglass, spray paint and emulsion on board in the original frame by the artist
65x55x40 cm (25 5/8 x 21 5/8 x 15 3/4 inches)
In a masterful use of trompe l’oeil, a meticulously-painted hummingbird hovers, drinking from the flower with its long bill. The bird’s body is not contained within the picture plane, but overlays the gold frame so as to break the ‘fourth wall’ of the painting. It is a powerful image, transforming the graffitied splash into a nurturing burst of floral beauty.
Phillips New-York, 2 July 2020
Stenciled in spray paint atop an Old Master’s reproduction encased in a gilded frame, Monkey Poison, created in 2004, exemplifies the satirical overtones of Banksy’s renowned street art transferred to the realm of “high art.” Perched atop a tree branch, Banksy’s monkey intrudes upon a countryside vignette, guzzling gasoline from a carton labeled with a flammable sign.
Monkey Poison, 2004
Oil and spray enamel on found canvas in artist’s frame
61x91cm (24 x 35 5/8 inches)
The chimpanzee, a recurring motif for the artist since the early 2000s, which has now become one of his most iconic and extensively reproduced images, overlooks this pastoral scene with eyes wide-open, ostensibly unaware of the poison he consumes. Perhaps a satirical commentary on the excess of modern-day gasoline consumption, or a pointed critique on animal cruelty, Monkey Poisonbrims with the sardonic humor and socio-political undercurrents quintessential of the artist’s oeuvre.
Banksy here utilizes zoological symbolism to ridicule contemporary society through a darkly humorous lens. Bridging the disparate realms of graffiti and high art, Monkey Poisonis Banksy’s own tongue-in-cheek response to the corrupt modern-day world that we inhabit, inviting both laughter and contemplation from those who encounter it.
Keep It Spotless
Sotheby’s New-York, 14 February 2008
Keep It Spotless is a Damien Hirst Pharmaceutical (spot) painting which Banksy has defaced. This visual first appeared on a wall on Chalk Farm Road, London in 2006. It portrays a woman dressed as a maid who is sweeping dirt under the cover of a brick wall.
Keep It Spotless,2007
Household gloss and spray-paint on canvas
214×305 cm (84 1/4 x 120 1/8 inches)
The spot paintings are among Damien Hirst’s most recognizable and popular works. In total, the artist has created 13 subseries of paintings that exist within the spots category. Of all the spot subseries, the Pharmaceutical series is the first and most prolific. So far, there are over 1000 known examples of his pharmaceutical paintings produced between 1986 and 2011.
Girl with Ice Cream on Palette
GBP 1,102,750 / USD 1,511,886
Bonhams London, 24 March 2021
Girl with Ice Cream on Palette from 2004 is a rare example of Banksy‘s stenciling style on found material which is not only entirely fresh to the market but also depicts one of the most playful and memorable images from his oeuvre, which first appeared at his major breakthrough exhibition Turf War in 2003.
Girl with Ice Cream on Palette, 2004
Spray-paint and emulsion on wood
59.7 x 50 cm (23 1/2 x 19 11/16 inches)
Not one to shy away from dark humor and pointed irony, Banksy takes a subject that evokes the fragility and innocence of childhood: a young girl resplendent in her polka-dot dress, her hair tied in a ponytail with a bow, gleefully holding an ice cream cone. That the cone contains a fizzing stick of dynamite, however, is Banksy’s dramatic punchline and typifies the flavor of his humor; a poignant reflection by the artist on the inevitable disillusionment that accompanies aging and possible hopes for the future.
The dynamite only appears to be visible from the back of the cone – out of eyesight from the girl, so it appears she has quite a surprise in store for her. As is the case with many of Banksy‘s most successful works, Girl with Ice Cream on Palette intends to shock, yet it also aims to engender thought provoking discourse within a broader socio-political context.
Love Is In The Bin
GBP 1,042,000 / USD 1,365,482
Sotheby’s London, 5 October 2018
On 5 October 2018, a version of Balloon Girlwith the artist’s frame got sold at Sotheby’s London for over £1 million. However, shortly after the gavel dropped and it was sold, an alarm sounded inside of the picture frame and the canvas passed through a shredder hidden within the frame, partially shredding the picture.
Love Is In The Bin (formerly Girl with Balloon),2006-2018
Spray-paint and acrylic on canvas, mounted on board, in artist’s frame, half-shredded
101x78x18 cm (39 3/4 x 30 3/4 x 7 inches)
The prank received wide news coverage around the world, with one newspaper stating that it was “quite possibly the biggest prank in art history.” Banksy then released a video on how the shredder was installed into the frame and the shredding of the picture, explaining that he had surreptitiously fitted the painting with the shredder a few years previously, in case it ever went up for auction. To explain his rationale for destroying his own artwork, Banksy quoted Picasso: “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
Love Is In The Air
Phillips New-York, 23 June 2021
An icon of the 21st century, Banksy’s Love Is In The Air is one of the artist’s most recognizable images. Evoking the 1960s pacifist slogan “Make Love Not War,” the work is a symbol of peaceful resistance and an ode to spontaneity.
Love Is In The Air, 2002
Spray-paint on canvas
50×43 cm (20×17 inches)
Stenciled-signed on the turnover edge
Across the various painted iterations of Love Is In The Air, Banksy varies the effect of the spray paint, showcasing different renderings of shadow, blur, and the figure’s bouquet. In the present work, the artist elongates the shadow between the figure’s legs and creates a prominent blurring effect to the image, at once evoking the speed of the protestor’s movement and the nature of memory. Creating a striking visual contrast with the rest of the composition, the touches of bright red allude the color’s dual significations of violence and love, encapsulating Banksy’s message for this iconic image—love as the ultimate weapon.
Executed in 2002, the present work is from a discrete edition of five canvases Banksy created for his debut exhibition in Los Angeles, Existencilism, at the 33 1/3 Gallery in July 2002. Like Bernini’s David, in Love Is In The Air, a solitary protestor is captured just at the moment before climactic action.
#26: Submerged Phone Booth
GBP 722,500 / USD 1,152,864
Phillips London, 15 October 2014
Submerged Phone Booth, carried out in 2006, features a replica of the classically British Telecommunications phone booth. The booth in question is depicted as emerging from a cement pavement, fragmenting and splitting the surface in its endeavor. In this piece, Banksy questions contemporary society and events that otherwise remain overlooked or tactfully ignored.
Submerged Phone Booth, 2006
Metal, Acrylic, glass
121.9×182.9×152.4 cm (47 7/8 x 72 x 60 inches)
Depicted with only the upper half visible above ground level, the phone booth is not displayed in its entirety. The effect created by the broken and fragmented cement suggests that the booth is rising from underground. There is a sense of liberation and prevailing power given to the object in its ability to destroy and overcome the otherwise almost indestructible and unyielding quality of cement.
#27: Oh My God
GBP 855,062 / USD 1,122,369
Bonhams London, 22 October 2020
Oh My God was first displayed at Banksy’s most significant exhibition, Barely Legal, his debut show in the United States in Los Angeles in 2006. Irreverent, playful, and littered with art historical and cultural allusions, Oh My God is a work in Banksy’s quintessential stenciling style on a rare metal support, demonstrating all the panache and appeal that makes this one of his most collectible works.
Oh My God, 2006
Spray-paint and emulsion on found metal
129.5×91.5 cm (51×36 inches)
Painted on a found piece of metal, the work reflects the gritty, urban environment that Banksy was borne of – a painting true to his roots as a street artist and anti-establishment renegade. In a typical revisionist twist on the classical portrait, the iconography of the image feels remarkably familiar, whose sitter’s tilted glance conjures the timeless pose of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earing (1665) or Pablo Picasso’s compelling portraits of Dora Maar produced at the end of the 1930s. Such comparisons have long since become entirely apt for the anonymous British artist, whose career has defined the cultural landscape of the last two decades and become synonymous with contemporary art criticism and political discourse in the twenty-first century.
#28: Weston Super Mare
GBP 747,062 / USD 1,056,993
Bonhams London, 22 October 2020
Banksy often plays with this national personality trait, either repurposing landscapes, inserting shocking images in existing artworks, or, as in the case with Weston Super Mare, memorializing a town synonymous with drabness and faded glamour and building the composition on the image of a lonely figure sitting on a bench.
Weston Super Mare, 1999
Acrylic on canvas
76.5×76.5 cm (30 1/8 x 30 1/8 inches)
The sheer unsuitability of this as a subject for a major work of art is where the humor lies and yet it also gives a glimpse into the personality of this mercurial artist. Weston-Super-Mare is a seaside town near Banksy’s native Bristol and the location of his 2015 theme park Dismaland. Best known as the site of the once celebrated Tropicana Lido, closed since 2000, Weston-Super-Mare is not the obvious choice for a new amusement park and so it would have immediately appealed to Banksy’s post-modern sense of irony. This is also a political choice; by celebrating the hinterland and indeed the degraded, disenfranchised figure at the heart of the composition of the present lot, Banksy is using his platform to drag focus away from traditional art world contexts.