Whether hopeful, incendiary, combative, or just plain weird, the work of the masked artistic vigilante known as ‘Banksy’ is always an uncontested event.
It should come as no surprise, then, that an infamous Banksy painting created yet another in a long line of public stirs at a Sotheby’s London auction on October 21.
Exceeding all expectations with one stroke of the gavel, Banksy’s Show Me the Monet––one of several pieces in his provocative Crude Oils series––garnered an astonishing £7,551,600, which was over £2.5 million more than initial high-end estimates. (Thankfully, the painting remained un-shredded at time of sale.) Show Me the Monet, a rebellious riff on one of Claude Monet’s beloved Giverny paintings of Belle Époque France, features a traffic cone and two shopping trollies laying waste to a lilypond in the Impressionist’s fabled Japanese garden.
Crude Oils, which debuted at a free exhibit in West London amid critical buzz and nearly 200 live rats (you read that correctly) includes re-imaginings of instantly recognisable classics, including Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and van Gogh’s Sunflowers––likely representing a collective call to onlookers to re-examine the things they hold dear.
Famed for his anonymity and shocking guerilla tactics, Banksy began his career as a ‘street’ artist, brandishing his distinct style of stencil graffiti across Bristol, England. His eccentric early showings, outlandish museum pranks, and surprise displays in Israel’s West Bank all helped catapult him to stardom by 2005, and he’s succeeded in captivating the international art world ever since. And though he frequently offers his works to consumers free of charge, his pieces will no doubt continue to fetch millions in the coming years.