'Tesco Value Tomato Soup', 2004 signed and dated '07/11/04' to stretcher verso, oil on canvas, in perspex box frame 123 x 92cm (48 7/16 x 36 1/4in).
Provenance: 'Crude Oils' Exhibition, London.
We are grateful to Pest Control Office for authenticating this lot.
"Art is not like any other culture because its success is not made by its audience... The Art we look at is made by only a select few. A small group create, promote, purchase, exhibit and decide the success of Art... When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires." Banksy, 'Wall and Piece', p. 144.
Banksy's ingenious attempts to address social injustices have catapulted him into the mainstream and cemented his position as an international artist. Dismissed and lauded in equal measure for re-writing the rulebook', Banksy has established himself on his own terms re-defining the notion of what it means to be an artist. His most noted stunts include the doctoring of pseudo 'old masters' and his infiltration of museum collections with fake exhibits.
'Tesco Value Tomato Soup', a fully hand-painted work by the artist, is from this latter series, which has been surreptiously exhibited in some of the world's leading museums, including Tate Britain, the National History Museum, London, and New York's Metropolitan Museum. It is the prototype for the example that was covertly installed in New York's Museum of Modern Art, hanging unnoticed by museum staff for six days in 2005, as well as the prototype for his well-known series of 'Soup Can' screenprints (see lots 68, 78 and 79 in the present sale). Banksy originally intended to create a whole series of these images but as the process was so labourious the present lot was the only one ever produced.
'Tesco Value Tomato Soup' draws upon one of the most recognisable and iconic images of the 20th century, namely Andy Warhol's series of 'Campbell's Soup Cans'. In marrying art with commerce, Warhol's images defined a momentous shift in 20th century contemporary art, challenging the definition of aesthetics, the role of art and the concepts of originality and reproduction. In replicating these images, Banksy is playfully aware of both the controversy courted by Warhol about the merit of his art, as well as the fact that these works helped to launch him as one of the important artists of our era.
However, whilst Warhol's Soup Cans appear devoid of any social commentary, merely documenting the ubiquitous banalities inherent in advertising, Banksy's 'Tesco Value Tomato Soup' is undoubtedly a critique of the excesses of consumerism and power of the corporate giants, themes he later addresses in 'Tesco-Pledge Your Alliance'.