BANKSY (born 1975) Girl with Balloon, 2004 (with the publisher's blindstamp, Pictures on Walls, London)

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Lot 34AR
BANKSY
(born 1975)
Girl with Balloon, 2004

Sold for £ 350,062 (US$ 493,047) inc. premium
BANKSY (born 1975)
Girl with Balloon, 2004
signed, dated, numbered 82/150 and further inscribed AP/DN in pencil
screenprint in colours
60 x 50cm (23 5/8 x 19 11/16in).
with the publisher's blindstamp, Pictures on Walls, London

Footnotes

  • This lot has been inspected by Pest Control and the Certificate of Authenticity is in the process of being issued.


    Possibly one of the most iconic artworks of the 21st century, Banksy Girl with Balloon has acquired a notoriety to which few contemporary works can lay claim. A favourite with the public and collectors alike, it was elected 'Britain's favourite work of art' in a Samsung poll in 2017. Its fame is based not only on the minimal design, universal message and straightforward approach, but also on the various events punctuating the life of the artwork.

    Originally created as a stencil mural on Waterloo Bridge on the Southbank, London, in 2002, with the inscription There is Always Hope written nearby, the stencil was eventually painted over by the council. This was to be the fate of other murals of this image in various locations across London and none remain today. One of these, stencilled on a wall in Shoreditch, London, was removed in 2014, exhibited at the controversial exhibition Stealing Banksy? and eventually sold at auction.

    In the meantime, Banksy had created a limited edition print of the image in 2004, of which 150 were signed, such as the present impression. With the idea of making his stencil work accessible to all, the print was offered through the print house collective Pictures on Walls, who describe their first encounter with Banksy about producing a screenprint of Girl with Balloon as follows,

    Some idiot from Bristol came into the office after a night spraying the streets and showed us what he'd been up to. 'Maybe that would work as a print' - we thought, its only two colours, how could we screw that up?

    By 2007 the print was already making its first appearance at auction and, ironically, as Banksy's original stencils were removed from their walls one after the other, his prints proliferated, and his visibility and status increased.

    By 2014, there were not many people who did not know about Banksy, and who did not instantly recognize Girl with Balloon. In March that year, Banksy re-worked the original image at the occasion of the third anniversary of the Syrian conflict, with the little girl wearing a headscarf. The motif was also projected onto the Eiffel Tower and the Nelson's Column to raise awareness about the devastating conflict and remind us all that the image was, first and foremost, a symbol of hope, rallying support for the victims of the war. Celebrities joined the campaign which quickly went viral.

    In the context of this sale dedicated to Pop and Street Art, Banksy can be seen as following the example of Keith Haring, whose murals and print projects contained charged political messages (lot 10 –Untitled 2, from Free South Africa). On another level, he also follows in the steps of another iconic Pop artist, Andy Warhol, in the way he carefully and playfully handles his image and his success, never scared to remind everyone – and the art world in particular – of the irony with which he responds to his celebrity status.

    One of the most famous instances of this – an event that acted as the pinnacle to the renown of Girl with Balloon – occurred in 2018 when one version on canvas, moments after selling over £1M at auction, started to automatically self-destruct through a hidden shredding mechanism that had been placed in the frame by the artist years before. Making headlines the world over, appropriately renamed Love is in the Bin by Banksy afterwards, and happily kept by the new owner, the image went from a universal symbol of hope, to achieving a cult status as one of the best art stunts ever orchestrated. Today Girl with Balloon is the artist's most sought-after print.

    The symbolism of the work should not be overlooked. For his most recent project, a boat Banksy financed to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean Sea, it is a painting of the little girl again that adorns the boat, this time wearing a life vest and holding a heart-shaped buoy, with the same gesture as the Girl with Balloon.

    A reminder that hope remains the main message of this iconic work, which is also what gives it the timelessness that is essential to all great and iconic artworks.

    We are delighted to be offering both the present signed impression and an unsigned impression (lot 95) of this celebrated print in the sale.
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