Bonhams : Banksy (British, b. 1975) Untitled (Fuck the Police) 2000
Banksy (British, b. 1975) Untitled (Fuck the Police) 2000

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Lot 29* AR
Banksy
(British, b. 1975)
Untitled (Fuck the Police)
2000

Sold for £ 555,062 (US$ 706,973) inc. premium
Banksy (British, b. 1975)
Untitled (Fuck the Police)
2000

signed in stencil
acrylic and spray enamel on board

122 by 122 cm.
48 1/16 by 48 1/16 in.

This work was executed in 2000.

Footnotes

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

    Provenance
    Private Collection, New York (acquired directly from the artist)
    Sale: Christie's, New York, Post -War And Contemporary Art Afternoon Session, 14 May 2008, Lot 464
    Private Collection, New York
    Sale: Sotheby's, London, Contemporary Art Day Auction, 11 February 2015, Lot 363
    Private Collection
    Private selling exhibition: Sotheby's, Hong Kong, Panorama: A New Perspective
    Acquired from the above by the present owner



    Set against a stark white background, a tense police officer has drawn his baton. He looks beyond confines of the board, but it is instantly apparent what, or better who, he is looking for. 'Fuck the police' is written in crude red letters on the wall behind him. The officer is too late, the message is clear, and the culprit seems to have escaped, leaving his mocking anti-authoritarian slogan for everyone to see.

    Graffiti Art has long been the leading means of expression for the visual counterculture. The irrepressible spontaneity of protest art and then early street art was mirrored in the music of Hip-Hop and dynamism of breakdance. These three pillars dominated much of urban culture in America from the 1970s and had a keen influence on Banksy as it came to impact corresponding areas in Britain in the 1980s. NWA's seminal album Straight Outta Compton (1988) featuring the coruscating single Fuck Da Police had a clear effect on the artist and spoke to the sense of rage and disenfranchisement of that urban generation which found a creative outlet for the artist in art as a means of expression.

    Born in Bristol in 1975, Banksy turned to graffiti as a teenager. Inspired by the thriving graffiti community of his hometown, his works first executed freehand and later with the use of his now signature cardboard stencils, started showing up locally on walls and trains in 1993. By 2005 they had cropped up all over Britain, even within the galleries of some of England's most prominent museums. Today Banksy has, more than any other artist in his field, garnered international acclaim for his whimsical, satirical, anti-establishment style of street art and his works are fiercely sought after by collectors.

    Untitled (Fuck the Police) from 2000 is a striking, early example of what was to become one of Banksy's most iconic motifs. Banksy's relationship with law enforcement is understandably difficult and the theme spreads throughout his career, most famously in 2005 with The Kissing Coppers on the wall of the Prince Albert Pub in Brighton and the Snorting Copper in London's East End. Like many of the artist's best works Untitled (Fuck the Police)'s success lies in its stark simplicity, rendered in black and red against the white board, the image possesses a visual immediacy and clean aesthetic that is key to its popularity.

    Interestingly, an early encounter with the police when he was 18 is part of the reason Banksy started using stencils. One night when he was hiding from the police, Banksy noticed the stencilled plate on the bottom of the fuel tank and realized that the use of stencils could cut his painting time in half and minimize the risk of getting caught. But there was more to it than just the time element. "As soon as I cut my first stencil I could feel the power there. I also like the political edge. All graffiti is low-level dissent, but stencils have an extra history. They've been used to start revolutions and to stop wars." (the artist in: Tristan Manco, Stencil Graffiti, London 2002)
    Banksy is perhaps the most important artist to emerge in Britain since the turn of the millennium and this urgent, signature work can be seen as a pure example of the artist at his very best.
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