Banksy, a British street artist, has always had a mysterious and complex relationship with his own creations. The artist, who has never been fully revealed to the public, has long eluded close scrutiny. The latest stunt in his avant-garde art career is the self-destruction of his Girl with Balloon painting, moments after being purchased.
Banksy Painting “Going, going, gone”
On the artist’s official Instagram, he posted a video of the painting “self-destructing.” Moments after being sold, a mechanism in the painting’s frame activated. The frame concealed a shredder that turned on and turned the painting into ribbons. Those in attendance looked on, horrified, as the $1.4 million painting was destroyed before their eyes.
Quoting Picasso, Banksy posted “the urge to destroy is also a creative urge.” In another post, Banksy showed how, years ago, he installed a shredder in the frame of the painting. According to the artist, the shredder was there in case the piece was ever up for auction.
It seems like there was a man in the audience who was prepared to alert someone off-site if the painting was sold during an auction. The mysterious individual was filmed by several in the auction house, prompting many to believe the shredder was activated by a remote device.
The Intersection of Irony and Art
The painting, which is called Girl with Balloon, originally appeared as street art. It’s one of Banksy’s most famous pieces, and as such original pieces in its style fetch a high price at art auctions. The piece in question was acquired in 2006 by Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale. It was signed and dedicated by the artist.
The staff of the auction seemed almost amused by the situation. “It appears we just got Banksy-ed, ” said the senior director of Sotheby’s, Alex Branczick. Typically, destruction of a work while in the care of an auction house would be grounds for the cancellation of a sale. Ironically, in this case, it seems that the stunt may make the work worth even more.
That is, of course, is the buyer can manage to keep all the little ribbons that were once a painting together. Indeed, the art world just got Banksy-ed.