The latest prank of the artist sparked furore as well as became groundbreaking in art. On October 5, 2018 his painting Girl With Balloon was sold at Sotheby`s. As soon as the painting was announced as sold for 1.37 million dollars, the paper shredder built in the frame was activated and finally chopped half the painting into pieces. You should see faces of the audience on video and photographs. The auction director said he had no idea about the artist’s intentions, and added that with this joke Banksy confirmed the status of a great artist. The painting, or what is left of it, is still considered an artwork. Banksy himself told on his website that he had installed the shredder in the frame of the painting several years before in case it someday went up for auction. The artist quoted the Russian anarchist and philosopher Mikhail Bakunin, the temptation to destruction is a creative motive.
On top of all, Banksy posted a video of how he was installing the shredder into the frame. Banksy had gifted this painting to an exhibition visitor in Los-Angeles back in 2006.
However the buyer of the painting did not look upset. She decided to keep the artwork. When the painting was destroyed, I was shocked. But eventually I realized that it was my own part of the art history. According to Sotheby’s, this was said by the anonymous art collector, their long-time client from Europe, who purchased the artwork. The collector must be happy to learn that Banksy has already renamed the artwork into Love is in the Bin. Pest Control, organization that verifies authenticity of Banksy’s artworks, has issued a certificate, which confirmed the new name. Art dealers think that after that shredding the value of the painting will grow at least twice as much.
In February 2007 Sotheby’s had the print of the painting Girl With Balloon. It was sold with two other paintings by the artist. Then Banksy didn’t miss the chance to misbehave too. The next day he placed a new painting on auction. It depicted an auction with money-bags bargaining for a painting in gold frame with the inscription I Can't Believe You Morons Actually Buy This Shit.
Such pranks help maintain interest of the bored public in the artist and their work. Moreover it can be a highly secretive and mysterious person. Nobody knows whether it is a musician from Robert Del Naja’s band Massive Attack or even a team of artists. This mysteriousness can also add to promotion and potential profit.
Banksy’s paintings are in fact uncovered messages from an intellectual but non-mainstream artist with hackneyed ideas like struggle against poverty and discrimination or peace for all people. However along with implementing his noble principles Banksy never misses a chance to profiteer. After all, man has got to eat…
Banksy has chosen the most democratic genre, graffiti. Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don't come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they're having a piss, says the artist.
As examples of anti-war theme there are drawings on ruins in the Gaza Strip and on the wall between Israel and Palestine that depict cats, children and other peaceful characters. Another image of the theme is Steve Jobs in the form of a Syrian refugee (in fact his father Abdulfattah Jandali was a Syrian refugee).
There is also Banksy’s mural protesting against child labor. It shows a young boy with a sewing machine crafting Union Jack bunting. This painting named Slave Labor appeared on the wall of a small London shop, then mysteriously disappeared, and in 2013 it was sold for 1.1 million dollars.
There is also a Banksy-version of the Disneyland called Dismaland. It was opened by the artist in 2015 in an English town of Weston-super-Mare and was designed as the post-apocalyptic Disneyland with ruins of the fairy castle and burnt cars.
After Brexit, Banksy painted the EU flag without the twelfth star. Long before that, there were artistically modified 10-pound notes with the portrait of Princes Diana instead of Queen Elizabeth and the inscription Banksy of England instead of Bank of England. Later they were sold for 200 pounds each.
No doubt, Banksy’s style can be quite inspiring. Nowadays an unremarkable picture can be sold for millions at world auctions. But if you apply resourcefulness in its promotion, it can cost even more. In our era promotion is the key component of an artist’s success.