A symbol for peaceful resistance, Banksy’s Love is in the Air (or Flower Thrower) print has also been the subject of lawsuits and record-breaking auction sales.
Here are 10 quick facts about one of the artist's most famous works:
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 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.
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”.
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.
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).
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.
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.
“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.”
Central to many of Banksy’s artworks is a 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.