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8 of the most iconic Banksy works

8 of the most iconic Banksy works

“Discover some of the most iconic works of Banksy, the world’s most famous street art artist.”

Who is Banksy? His identity is one of the best kept secrets in the art world. Active since the 1990s, his work grew out of the underground movement in his hometown Bristol, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians.

Today, his works are found in numerous cities around the world and fetch sky-high prices at auctions. To create his works, Banksy often uses the stencil technique. Using stencils generally speeds up the creation process, particularly important since graffiti is considered illegal in many countries.

His works, loaded with sarcasm and social messages have caused controversy and speculation around the world. So, read on to discover eight of his best-known creations:

1. Balloon Girl / Girl with Balloon

This mural, initially carried out on Waterloo Bridge, as well as other sites around London, is one of the most iconic works of Banksy. In the original mural, a girl appears with her hand extended toward a red heart-shaped balloon which is flying away with the wind, and next to it reads the phrase “There is always hope”.

During an auction at Sotheby’s in 2018, a framed copy of the artwork was auctioned for 1.04 million pounds. The biggest surprise came a few minutes later, when a mechanical shredder hidden inside the frame came to life, partially destroying the work. The “new” creation was renamed “Love is in the Bin”.

 

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2. Kissing Coppers

This work, in which two policemen in uniform kiss passionately, was painted on the wall of a bar in Brighton in 2004. After suffering several acts of vandalism, the owner of the bar decided to remove it and replace it with a copy, and later sold the original at an auction in Miami.

 

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A post shared by Grigoris (He/Him) (@gregoire_neo)

3. Sweep it Under the Carpet

This creation first appeared in 2006 on Chalk Farm Road in London, and a year later in Hoxton Square. Although there are many interpretations, it is said that the gesture of the maid sweeping the dirt under the rug is perhaps an attempt to represent the reluctance of the western world to tackle global problems, such as AIDS in Africa, which was one of the main topics of that year.

 

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A post shared by British Painters (@britishpainters)

4. Rage, the Flower Thrower / Love is in the Air

Created in Jerusalem, this mural shows a masked man throwing a bouquet of flowers. The man is wearing a baseball cap and appears to be aiming the flowers at someone in a fit of rage. Banksy created it during one of his trips to Palestine and the piece is thought to be in response to the three people stabbed during a pride parade or due to violence in the Middle East.

 

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A post shared by Dovile Zibolyte (@dovile.zibolyte)

5. Slave Labor

Banksy chose a Poundland store, located in Wood Green, north London, to create this graffiti in 2012. In the mural, a boy appears on his knees sewing British flags. This is said to have been the artist’s way of protesting exploitation and to rebuke the sweatshops used to manufacture souvenirs made to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. The mural lasted for about a year before it was removed and auctioned off.

 

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A post shared by HYPEBEAST (@hypebeast)

6. Napalm

Napalm, also known as Can’t Beat That Feeling, is inspired by an iconic photograph from the Vietnam War. The picture featured several children, including young Phan Thi Kim Phuc, fleeing from an attack. In Banksy’s work, Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald feature on either side of the young woman. As in many of the enigmatic graffiti artist’s works, there are many interpretations: are these two icons of American culture guiding the girl to safety or to a tragic end? Is it a critique of capitalism?

 

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A post shared by Claudia Alpa (@__alpatour__)

7. The Son of a Migrant from Syria / Son of a Syrian Migrant

On this occasion, Banksy chose a refugee camp in the French city of Calais to capture his work. In the mural appears Steve Jobs (founder of Apple and the son of a Syrian immigrant), with an old computer and a bag with his possessions. In this way, the artist wanted to highlight the refugee crisis, and, at the same time, focus on the benefits of immigration.

8. Show me the Monet 

This is Banksy’s reinterpretation of one of the famous paintings in Monet’s Water Lilies series. In addition to the Japanese bridge, the artist added two shopping carts and a traffic cone, to protest against environmental pollution and the excesses of consumerism. The work sold at Sotheby’s auction house for 7.5 million pounds in 2020.

 

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