Banksy (British, born 1975) Jail Break 2010

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Lot 48* AR TP
(British, born 1975)
Jail Break

Sold for £ 185,000 (US$ 247,001) inc. premium
Banksy (British, born 1975)
Jail Break

signed and dated 2010 on the reverse
stencil spray paint and household gloss on found metal

172.1 by 92.7 by 7.3 cm.
67 3/4 by 36 1/2 by 2 7/8 in.


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

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2012

    Banksy's Jail Break, from the collection of renowned multiple Olympic gold-medalist snowboarder Shaun White, is a celebration of the transformative power of art. This may seem surprising for a work constructed from riveted panels of steel, in the form of a substantial and seemingly impenetrable prison door, and yet, alongside some of the artist's best works Jail Break is heavy metal with a light touch.

    Being almost life-sized in scale, with raw cut edges and a rusted reinforced sill, Jail Break's sense of confinement is quickly dispelled by the artist's mischievous rendition of a hand extending out from behind the bars to draw the outline of a door handle which will eventually liberate the cell's occupant. Is this an image of Britain's most wanted and elusive graffiti artist absconding from custody for his crimes against public property? Perhaps, although what is clear is that this work continues the artist's exploration of the notion of freedom.

    Whilst this might seem a little odd for an artist who has built himself an international profile operating under a pseudonym, Banksy's anonymity has allowed him to execute ambitious and often controversial public artworks without disruption. His sheer bravado has granted him an almost mythical status amongst his growing army of followers which in turn has allowed him the platform to champion his own personal brand of political activism. The appearance of a new 'Banksy' instantly triggers an overwhelming level of activity on social media, and is testimony to the incredible success of this graffiti artist outsider, who on his own terms has achieved the seemingly impossible feat of conquering the art world in his own inimitable way.

    The stencil for Jail Break made its public appearance in 2010 on the side of an unassuming Bail Bonds building in New York. The addition of Banksy's artwork, positioned where one might imagine a back door to appear, gives the work the visual immediacy and humour that we have come to expect from the artist. Two gallery works each with unique variations were also executed in the same year, of which the present example is the first to appear on the open market.

    It is perhaps fitting that Jail Break comes from the collection of celebrated snowboarder Shaun White, who, like Banksy, defied all odds to become a leading international figure in his field. As a young boy White recovered from multiple operations to correct a congenital heart condition and, undeterred by adversity, developed an early passion for skate and snowboarding which he pursued with dedication. White's commitment paid off through a multitude of sporting achievements, including two Olympic gold medals and the accolade of amassing the highest overall medal wins at the X games.

    If there ever was a sport that embodied the ideals of freedom, then snowboarding with its romantic combination of open mountain vistas, unsullied snow and 'wind in the hair' exhilaration must be top of the list, and White, as one of its leading practitioners, has been instrumental in positioning what was originally an underground sport, well and truly into the mainstream.

    In recent times street art has witnessed this same momentous shift in perception, in part due to Banksy's phenomenal success. This popularity has allowed him to widely disseminate his political viewpoint and here lies the transformative potential of his art. Whether or not the escapee here is the artist is irrelevant, the owner of that hand could be anyone and this universality is where Jail Break's power lies.
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