10 Facts About Banksy's Love Is In The Air

Love is in the Air by BanksyLove is in the Air © Banksy 2003
Joe Syer

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A symbol for peaceful resistance, Banksy’s Love is in the Air (or Flower Thrower) print has been both the subject of lawsuits and record-breaking auction sales.

Here are 10 quick facts about one of the artist's most famous works:

1.

Love Is In The Air is one of Banksy’s most iconic artworks

Love Is In The Air (flower thrower) by Banksy - MyArtBrokerLove Is In The Air (flower thrower) © Banksy 2003

Love Is In The Air, also known as LIITA, Flower Thrower and Rage, Flower Thrower, rose to fame as the cover image of Banksy’s 2005 book, Wall And Piece. The artwork depicts a man dressed in black, wearing a backwards baseball cap and a bandana across his face, poised to throw an item. From the way he is dressed, the viewer first presumes he is about to throw a brick or a petrol bomb. The bundle in his hand, however, is a bouquet of flowers.

The iconic status of this work has been proved time and time again as it is chosen to champion all that is subversive in Banksy's art. Most recently, it was selected as the artwork to lead new NFT company, Particle's venture into generating a new and more egalatarian form of shared ownership in the art world. It has emerged that it was Particle who bought Love Is In The Air, for the record-shattering sum of 12.9 million at that memorable sale at Sotheby's in 2021—with the ultimate intention of splitting it into a large number of NFTs, which was sold to buyers eager to claim shared ownership of the famous painting. The original Banksy painting will be toured by Particle's charitable foundation, likely staying in public view and appreciated for its iconic status for many generations to come.

2.

What does Love Is In The Air by Banksy mean?

Love Is In The Air (flower thrower) by Banksy - MyArtBrokerLove Is In The Air (flower thrower) © Banksy 2003

The flower thrower in Love Is In The Air has become a recognisable motif for peaceful resistance, non-violent protest and the power of love over hate.

3.

Love Is In The Air debuted on the West Bank Wall

Flower Thrower Mural by Banksy - MyArtBrokerImage © jensimon7 CC BY-NC 2.0 / Love Is In The Air (flower thrower) © Banksy 2003

The controversial barrier separating Palestine from Israel had been erected a year earlier, in 2002. “Palestine is now the world’s largest open-air prison and the ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti artists,” Banksy later wrote. In addition to Love Is In The Air, Banksy has created over a dozen murals on the West Bank Wall in 10 years.

In 2017, Banksy returned to Bethlehem to open the Walled Off Hotel next to the West Bank Wall, which boasts the “worst view in the world”.

4.

How many versions of Love Is In The Air are there?

Love Is In The Air (flower thrower) by Banksy - MyArtBrokerAn unusual instance where Banksy's Flower Thrower aims to the left. (Love Is In The Air (flower thrower) © Banksy 2003)

There are several variations of Love Is In The Air, including original paintings on canvas, originals on cardboard and wooden pallets, a triptych spread over three frames, as well as signed and unsigned limited-edition prints.

Most variations show the flower thrower looking towards the right, but some versions also show him looking towards the left.

5.

Banksy released prints of Love Is In The Air in 2003

Love Is In The Air (flower thrower) by Banksy - MyArtBrokerLove Is In The Air (flower thrower) © Banksy 2003

The artwork shows the flower thrower, depicted in black and white, against a bright red background. There are 500 unsigned and 150 signed screenprints, each with the dimensions of 50cm by 70cm.

6.

How much is Banksy's Love Is In The Air worth?

Love Is In The Air by Banksy - MyArtBrokerImage © Sotheby's / Love is in the Air © Banksy 2005

While a staggering £12.9m was paid for an original canvas of Banksy's Love Is In The Air in 2021, at Sotheby's auction, even Love Is In The Air prints sell for a great deal, and can achieve six-figure sums at auction. The top price for a signed Love Is In The Air print is currently £380,000 (£475,000 with fees), sold in March 2021. But an artist proof, sold at auction in December 2020, fetched as much as £407,800 (£509,750 with fees).

7.

Banksy applied for a trademark for Love Is In The Air in 2014

Laugh Now by Banksy 2003 - MyArtBrokerLaugh Now is another of Banksy's artworks that he has since lost a trademark battle over. (Laugh Now © Banksy 2003)

The trademark legally protected Banksy’s artwork from being used or copied by another business. But this was later challenged by greeting cards company Full Colour Black, who argued that Banksy was not using Love Is In The Air for business trading or branding purposes.

The outcome of this trademark struggle was crucial, as it would set the precedent for defining whether or not Banksy had any claim to the trademark of his iconic designs, if not actively using them for trading or branding purposes. Full Colour Black used the outcome over Love Is In The Air— which Banksy lost the trademark for— in order to pursue cases against his other images, and even his name!

8.

LIITA was the first physical artwork bought with crypto at auction

In an auction history first, Sotheby’s allowed buyers to pay in US dollars, bitcoin or ether. “The pairing brings together the biggest disruptor in finance with one of the most notable disruptors in the art world,” said the auction house. The 2005 Love Is In The Air canvas was estimated between US$3-5million but sold for US$12.9million (with fees). Sotheby’s confirmed after the sale that payment was made in cryptocurrency.

9.

Banksy’s trademark dispute motivated his pop-up shop launch

Love Is In The Air (Gross Domestic Product Triptych) by Banksy - MyArtBrokerLove Is In The Air (Gross Domestic Product Triptych) © Banksy 2019

In 2019, the ongoing trademark struggle, sparked first by Love Is In The Air, led to Banksy's opening of his pop-up merchandising shop, Gross Domestic Product. “This shop has come about as a result of legal action,” the artist explained. “A greetings cards company are trying to seize legal custody of the name Banksy from the artist, who has been advised the best way to prevent this is to sell his own range of branded merchandise.”

One of the products offered at Gross Domestic Product was the signed and numbered framed triptych of Love Is In The Air. “This is Banksy’s first experiment with a new technique for making prints – spray the stencil onto processing film and expose the result directly onto a silk screen,” explained the product page. “This avoids photography or computer manipulation and creates a super accurate analogue representation of gestural mark making. In other words – looks pretty dope.”

10.

Love Is In The Air is one of Banksy’s many anti-war prints

Pulp Fiction by Banksy - MyArtBrokerBanksy often uses his art to take weapons out of hands. (Pulp Fiction © Banksy 2004)

Although Love Is In The Air carries at its core a message of hope, it remains darkly satirical, and is clear on his stance against war. The title 'Love Is In The Air', makes a dark reference to certain notable 'advancements' in modern warfare, most likely to the invention and increasing deployment of drones since the US led Iraq war. These airborne weapons are the frequent target of Banksy's art, as in his paintings Civilian Drone Strike (2017) and If At First You Don’t Succeed – Call An Airstrike (2020). Banksy sardonic comment here is on the inhumane, and very much un-loving nature of such weapons, which enable the user to carry out high-fatality strikes with worrying impersonality.

Central to many of Banksy’s artworks is this same message of anti-violence and anti-war. In CND Soldiers, we find two uniformed soldiers protesting against the war in Iraq by graffitiing a wall with a huge peace sign. Meanwhile, Napalm lays bare the horrors of war as Mickey Mouse and Ronald MacDonald smile and wave whilst holding hands with a victim of a Napalm attack.

Like Love Is In The Air, Banksy’s Pulp Fiction print turns the idea of violence on its head: the film’s protagonists are seen pointing not guns, but bananas, at an out-of-sight opponent. Banky's art is not only activist in its anti-war content; he has frequently made contributions to anti-arms organizations, raising funds through his paintings. Find out more about Banksy's philnthropy here.