Banksy (British, born 1975) Girl and Balloon 2003
Lot 44AR
Banksy
(British, born 1975)
Girl and Balloon
2003
Sold for £ 344,750 (US$ 440,046) inc. premium

Lot Details
Banksy (British, born 1975) Girl and Balloon 2003
Banksy (British, born 1975)
Girl and Balloon
2003

signed in stencil on the turnover edge; numbered 17/25 on the stretcher
stencil spray paint on canvas

50.8 by 50.8 cm.
20 by 20 in.

This work was executed in 2003.

Footnotes

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

    Provenance
    Santa's Ghetto, London
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2003



    Banksy's Girl and Balloon, from 2003 is without doubt one of the most iconic images of the Twenty-First Century. Instantly recognisable, its enduring success lies within the ease with which it has been disseminated and reproduced online by a new, tech-savvy generation of art lovers. Despite this, its earliest renditions on the streets of London no longer survive, and the present series of canvases from 2003 and the subsequent prints released the following year are the only concrete testimony to the work's appeal.

    Its popularity is such that in a poll commissioned last year it was voted Britain's favourite artwork beating such historical heavyweights as John Constable's The Hay Wain and JMW Turner's The Fighting Temeraire.

    How has the work of an upstart graffiti artist from Bristol, proudly operating outside the system, managed to upstage some of the most important treasures housed in our most hallowed national collection? Like many of the artist's best works its success lies in its stark simplicity, rendered in black and red against the white canvas, the image possesses a visual immediacy that is key to its popularity. Here we have a stencil of the familiar little girl rendered centrally to the composition with hand outstretched reaching for the heart-shaped balloon that only moments earlier escaped her fingers. Yet despite this immediacy there is also an enigmatic quality to the work which makes a literal reading difficult to decipher. Whether the work is concerned with freedom, release, poignancy, loss, temporality or hope depends entirely on the viewer, although what is clear is its timeless appeal. Indeed, the artist returned to the image again reworking it in March 2015 with a version entitled #WithSyria marking the three-year anniversary of the Syrian conflict, whilst at the same time releasing an animated version narrated by actor Idris Elba, with the aim of contributing to the efforts to stem the crisis.

    This is the first example to come to auction for over five years and, due to its unusually large size, means that this is perhaps the most desirable example of the artist's best known image to be publicly offered for sale.
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  1. Amy Thompson
    Specialist - Contemporary Art
    Bonhams
    Work
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