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Banksy More info
Edition Details
Technique:Original Mixed Media
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“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” Banksy

Birch faced ply, cast jesmonite
238.5 x 116 x 74 cm. (93 7/8 x 45 5/8 x 29 1/8 in.)

Signed 'BANKSY' on the reverse. This work is unique and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Pest Control.

London Evening Sale 10 February 2014 7pm
Sold for £506,500

Bristol, Bristol Museum, Banksy Versus Bristol Museum, 13 June - 31 August 2009

Catalogue essay:
One of the most prominent yet also elusive figures in British art, Banksy has drawn as much praise as he has criticism. While many consider him to be a figure that has successfully brought into question what we as a society appreciate as art, others view him as little more than an aggrandized vandal. Indeed during the artist’s well-covered residency in New York, much of his art was in fact destroyed by federal authorities.

Having initially won acclaim in the early 2000s for his graffiti work, Banksy has since gone on to deploy a wide variety of media, ranging from animatronics to live performers. In his playful and direct style, the artist addresses perceived woes in society, making for gripping and provoking pieces.

He is a master of the surprising juxtaposition and this is perfectly encapsulated by Happy Shopper, a piece which featured in the acclaimed 2009 show ‘Banksy versus Bristol Museum’, where it held pride of place in the main entrance hall. "Some of the fake historical relics I’ve inserted among Bristol’s permanent collection should be entertaining — you can’t tell what’s truth and what’s fiction. It’ll be like walking through a real-life Wikipedia".

Taking a classical statue from the museum as his model, Banksy mischievously adapts the figure, festooning the statue’s arms with shopping bags and placing a pair of over-sized sunglasses on the face. The effect is both startling and highly amusing. Were it not for her antique drapery, one would be forgiven for seeing this statue as a present day character - a Paris Hilton or Victoria Beckham of sorts.

Despite its playful nature, the work carries an undeniable cynical edge. The mass of bags the figure is carrying points to an unquenchable desire for material goods, the stoic features of the sculpture meanwhile suggesting a glazed dissatisfaction. Clearly Banks is making a direct dig at consumerist culture through this piece. ‘Banksy versus Bristol Museum’ was not the first time that Banksy infiltrated his art into public collections (in 2003 the artist infamously smuggled his work into the Tate Britain where it went unnoticed for hours) however, the Bristol exhibition and the pieces the artist produced for it, may be understood as holding particular personal significance to the artist since Bristol is thought to be his home town.

With its focus on contemporary culture and mass consumerism, Banksy’s work holds a place besides the art of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Like these artists he has achieved icon status. Rebellious and contentious though he may be, Banksy is undoubtedly an artist that has shaped the face of contemporary art.
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