Banksy, the pseudonymous England-based street artist, political activist, and film director - has become synonymous with contemporary art in the 21st century. The true identity of Banksy remains a mystery, but his art has gained worldwide recognition for its provocative and often subversive messages.
His work often combines dark humour with political and social commentary, addressing themes such as capitalism, war, poverty, and consumerism. He gained notoriety in the 1990s for his graffiti and stencil art, which he created on the walls of buildings and public spaces throughout the UK and beyond. You’ll find many of his paintings on rotation at Paintvine, right across New Zealand.
Over the years, Banksy's art has been featured in numerous exhibitions, documentaries, and books, and his work has sold for millions of dollars at auctions around the world. Despite his commercial success, Banksy has remained fiercely independent and continues to challenge the art world establishment with his unorthodox approach and elusive persona.
But in arguably perhaps his most controversial and famous stunt to date, he pulled off the unthinkable. Shredding a $1.4 million dollar painting into a million worthless pieces.
In October 2018, during a Sotheby's auction in London, Banksy's painting "Girl with Balloon" sold for over $1.4 million. However, moments after the hammer fell, the painting shredded itself through a hidden shredder built into the frame.
You can see a video of the incident here.
The incident shocked the art world and garnered widespread media attention. Banksy later released a video on Instagram showing how he had secretly built a shredder into the painting's frame years earlier, in case it ever went up for auction.
The partially shredded artwork, now renamed "Love is in the Bin," was immediately deemed a new work of art and was eventually sold at auction for more than $40 million New Zealand dollars.
Many interpreted the incident as a commentary on the commercialisation of art and the absurd prices that people are willing to pay for it. Banksy has long been critical of the art world establishment, and "Girl with Balloon" was a particularly iconic work of his. By shredding it, he was perhaps making a statement about the fleeting nature of art and the value we place on it.
Regardless of the message, the incident sparked a lively debate about the nature of art and its value, and it solidified Banksy's status as one of the most provocative and influential artists of our time.
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