Banksy's Dorothy

Year: 2009
Medium: Spray Paint
Signed/Unsigned: Unsigned
Banksy's Dorothy. A spray paint work on a poster of the character Dorothy holding a dog in a basket with the text "I don't think we're on canvass anymore..."Dorothy © Banksy 2009
Joe Syer

Joe Syer, Co-Founder & Specialist[email protected]

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Among Banksy’s extensive portfolio, Dorothy, a piece created in 2009, stands out as a quintessential example of Banksy's ability to merge high art with humour. This unsigned, spray paint artwork employs Banksy's iconic stencil technique on an unconventional metal canvas, playfully challenging the boundaries of traditional art forms. Dorothy encapsulates the artist's signature blend of satire and social commentary, all while paying homage to the classic film The Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy: Meaning & Analysis

Banksy's Dorothy emerges as a poignant commentary, bridging the chasm between the nature of street art and the discourse of cultural and artistic critique. This work, through its inventive use of medium and subject matter, captures Banksy's manipulation of pop culture iconography to serve as a vehicle for satirical exposition. The choice of Dorothy, a symbol of innocence and yearning for home, placed incongruously on a piece of metal, serves as a metaphor for the dislocation felt in the contemporary sociopolitical landscape. Banksy's adaptation of the iconic phrase to “I don't think we're on canvas anymore” wittily acknowledges the transformation of the artistic medium and context, reflecting on the evolution of art from traditional to unconventional spaces.

Banksy's strategic insertion of humour through the modification of Dorothy's line from The Wizard of Oz provides more than comedic relief. In this context, Dorothy becomes a conduit for Banksy's exploration of identity and belonging in a globalised society, where the notions of home and reality are increasingly fluid. The artwork operates on multiple levels, engaging with themes of dislocation, transformation, and the search for authenticity in a commodified cultural landscape.

Dorothy reflects on the lineage of Dadaism, invoking the spirit of Marcel Duchamp's defiance against traditional art forms. Banksy's Dorothy not only echoes Duchamp's revolutionary approach but also propels it into the contemporary milieu, where the questioning of art's conventions and its interaction with popular culture remain as pertinent as ever.

Dorothy is a clever reinterpretation of a classic pop culture figure, infused with sharp commentary on the nature of belonging in today's art world.”

Joe Syer
Joe Syer,Co-Founder & Specialist,MYArtbroker

Reflections on Banksy's Dorothy

Through the subversion of the classic image of Dorothy, Banksy fosters a dialogue that extends beyond the confines of the artwork to question the role and place of art in contemporary society.

The work's narrative potency lies in its ability to balance irony with a sincere nod to artistic tradition. Banksy's Dorothy isn’t a mockery of the art establishment; it pays homage to the transformative power of art. Just as Dorothy's journey in The Wizard of Oz speaks to the idea of self-discovery and the questioning of reality, Banksy's rendition encourages a re-examination of the constructs that define art and its value.

Dorothy is a pivotal piece within Banksy's oeuvre that showcases the artist's adeptness at infusing art with social commentary. It serves as a poignant reminder of the complexities inherent in interpreting art and its messages. As Banksy continues to defy and define, Dorothy will remain a significant marker in the dialogue on the evolution of art and its capacity to engage with and reflect the intricacies of human experience.

Dorothy: Exhibition History

Italy, BANKSY & FRIENDS, Pop House Gallery 2022

Italy, Jago, Banksy, Tvboy e altre storie controcorrente, Pop House Gallery 2022

Germany, Urban Art Classics, MUCA 2013

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