Thirty Thousand Streets

Friday, April 18, 2008

Stop this Banksy madness.

*removes imaginary glasses, wearily massages bridge of nose between thumb and forefinger*

Now, I know everyone – but everyone – wants a piece of Banksy's ass. In fact, when we're all older, ironic pictures of snogging policeman will probably be what those kitschy reproductions of the woman with the green face were to your gran (and you know 'street art' has been utterly co-opted when advertising for the 'urbanproof' Nissan QashQai features the now familiar Banksy tropes of weapon wielding flying rats).

Just recently I received an email from his online vendor Pictures On Walls, advising buyers to beware (in their usual vaguely snarky tone of voice) of counterfeit editions of his work, currently flooding an internet auction site near you.

The thing is, people don't actually seem to be so bothered about the actual provenance or authenticity of the work, so long as they're buying a stake in the stencil grafitti goldrush, at vastly inflated cost. Which is good for some, as Banksy's satire-lite arguably constitutes an industry in itself, which from the looks of it, some people are managing to make a very respectable income off. For example, there's a gallery in Spitalfields market that as I remember, carries an almost exclusive stock-in-trade of canvas prints of photographs of his iconic paintings.

The biggest piss take I think I've ever seen though was just recently on this website, which came to my attention through a Google text ad in Gmail entitled "Banksy/Kate Moss original artwork" and just out of curiosity I followed through.

I nearly spat out my lunch. What's on offer isn't a painting, isn't even a print edition, it's a record cover which happened to feature the Bristol lad's Warhol knock-off featuring Kate Moss.

The cost?

A mere £495 to you (or a very reasonable £795 framed).

I'm sorry? What? are you having a laugh?

The blurb for this 'objet d'art' reads:

"The cover artwork is an exact replica of Banksy's original Kate Moss artwork based on the style of Andy Warhol's 'Marilyn Monroe'. Both this and his Mona Lisa stencil went for outstanding prices at Sotheby's, more than double his previous record price of £21,000"

Yes, but that was for a signed, limited edition screenprint which was about 24" x 24" in size. This is a record sleeve... and not even for a particularly good record, by the looks of it. Who the 'funk' are Dirty Funker anyway? Some straight-to-video dance act who deserve to be consigned to history's ash-can for the heinous pun-crime of bastardising the words 'funk' and (w-wait for it!) 'fuck' – Audacious!

But not nearly so audacious as the people running this site..

"Don't miss out, stock is very limited."

They warn, in a cautionary magenta footnote at the bottom. Yeah, stock's very limited because it was a hugely derivitive slice of "My Sharona" sampling Euro-cheddar which vanished without trace in 2006. What beggars belief is that they don't even pretend that it's anything other than a record sleeve though presumably some muppet with more credit cards than brain cells might actually purchase this, blinded by the throbbing retinal afterburn caused by seeing the words 'Banksy' and 'Buy' in close proximity.

I think I might start knocking out web-optimised jpegs of Banksy's 'authentic' artwork at a fiver a pop. Any takers?


Zeno Cosini said...

It's a bit reminiscent of hammers and walnuts, but there's a nicely scathing piece by Jonathan Jones about his "hard, irreducible core of mediocrity" here:,,2118864,00.html

"I know you're laughing. Now you've stopped."

Ade said...

Unbelievable. Uhh - no thanks guys. Try lowering your price by a factor of 100 and, no, still don't really want one thanks.

As for one of your JPEGs - let me know when they start to roll off the press, man.

The Eyechild said...

@ Zeno:

Yeah, there's definitely a sense of wit to Banksy's work, but once you scratch (and sniff) beneath the surface, something vaguely cheesy about a lot of it.

@ Ade

How many can I put you down for?