Banksy (b. 1975) Kids on Guns 2013
Lot 12* AR
Banksy
(b. 1975)
Kids on Guns
2013
Sold for £68,500 (US$ 116,818) inc. premium
Lot Details
Banksy (b. 1975)
Kids on Guns
2013

signed and numbered CP/15 on the overlap
stencil spray paint on canvas

45.5 by 45.5 cm.
17 15/16 by 17 15/16 in.

This work was executed in 2013.

Footnotes

  • This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Pest Control Office.

    Provenance
    Banksy's stall in Central Park, New York
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2013

    Exhibited
    Christchurch, Canterbury Museum, Rise, 2013-2014



    Better Out Than In, Banksy's high profile 'residency' in New York City ran through the month of October 2013. The artist's intention was to execute thirty-one artworks around the streets of Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs, with each new work being unveiled on a daily basis.

    Residencies are usually collaborative projects with artists being invited to work outside their day to day environment often in conjunction with a local community or institution, such as a museum, studio or university. They are considered to be reflective and serene experiences evolving from the relationship between the artist and their hosts. In true Banksy style, Better Out Than In was a radical departure from the norm. For a start, he hadn't been invited by the city authorities who no doubt viewed his works as acts of vandalism. The New York City Police Department had historically adopted a zero tolerance policy on street art and had aggressively pursued and prosecuted its perpetrators. Whilst Banksy's anonymity allowed him a certain degree of protection, it was hardly a position that encouraged open collaboration with the local community, and the effort of covertly producing a new work every day under the watchful eye of the NYPD, the press and an army of admiring fans must have been a challenging experience.

    Despite the pressures, Better Out Than In, was always meant to be a public project with Banksy keen to engage with New Yorkers (and the rest of the world for that matter). Images of his works in situ were posted daily on his website and were almost instantaneously reproduced on social media sites, followed closely by prime-time coverage on mainstream news outlets, giving his creations both an immediacy and an instant global audience. The flavour was distinctly New York – the accent, the city's hardline attitude to graffiti and the Twin Towers were all referenced in his works - even if the themes continued to be universal: social injustice, censorship and the re-appropriation and commodification of dissention were all addressed. Many of his stencil motifs incorporated street furniture; others were mobile. Sirens of the Lamb featured a truck filled with stuffed animals touring New Yorks' Meat Packing District, whilst a performance-based piece saw a fibreglass replica of Ronald McDonald appear outside the door of the city's ubiquitous burger chains, his oversized boots being cleaned by an adolescent shoe shiner.

    His greatest coup was perhaps on day 13 of the residency when the artist set up a stall in Central Park where an unassuming trader sold his paintings to passing tourists. Film footage shows Banksy's immediately recognisable black and white stenciled canvases stacked on a trestle table or suspended on the stall's makeshift metal framework. Variations of Heavy Weaponry, Laugh Now and Love Is In the Air jostled for space with new works including one with a discount store label stencil announcing the price of each work as $60. The following day the event was documented on the artist's website: "Yesterday I set up a stall in the park selling 100% authentic original signed Banksy canvases. For $60 each."

    The first paintings weren't sold until 3.30pm when a lady acquired two for her children after first negotiating a 50% discount. The footage shows them being placed without protection in a blue plastic carrier bag. Kids on Guns and Winnie The Pooh, the two lots offered here, were purchased together half an hour later by the present owner, a New Zealander, and the transaction was also captured on film. A further four works had sold by the end of the day generating the total sum of $420 for the artist. For the casual observer it must have been difficult to believe that the works were in fact genuine. The ubiquitous nature of the trader and stand, located in one of New York's tourist hotspots, and the overall display of the works was a master stroke: a setting and presentation at odds with the hallowed white cube space of a gallery environment designed to lend artworks gravitas and, by association, added value. The fact that his paintings were original and were being offered at a tiny fraction of their true retail value raises real questions about the perception of worth and the nature of art as commodity within the marketplace, something that the artist must be acutely aware of. Banksy, the maverick artist embraced by the very same establishment he sets out to ridicule.

    His website was careful to add "Please note: This was a one off. The stall will not be there again today." in order to avoid the dangerous sales scrum that would have resulted from the changed perception of these very same works.

    The whole exercise represents Banksy at his very best: the expression of a powerful statement executed in an ingenious manner with a knowing sense of humour, but also one that reveals a very human side to an anonymous artist struggling to come to terms with his runaway commercial success.
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    Specialist - Contemporary Art
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