Banksy's Security Protected

Year: 2004
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimensions: 30 x 39cm
Last Hammer: £75,000 (Christie’s London, 2014)
Signed/Unsigned: Signed
This work by Banksy shows a stencilled rat wearing a mask and holding a set of pliers, which he is using to dismantle the words Security Protected.Security Protected © Banksy 2004
Joe Syer

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

Interested in buying or selling
Banksy?

Browse artworks

Security Protected is a mixed media masterpiece created by Banksy in 2004, where the world-renowned yet enigmatic street artist conveys a potent message through the signature simplicity of his stencil works. The artwork displays a rat – a motif often revisited in his oeuvre – positioned purposefully in the lower right corner, donning a bandit mask and arming itself with a cutter. This rodent, a character typically associated with the decay of urban environments, is Banksy’s protagonist that skillfully subverts the notion of surveillance, as signified by the artwork's title emblazoned in red.

Security Protected: Meaning and Analysis

Banksy's Security Protected is an allegory of resistance in its depiction of a rebellious act. The rat, often seen as the scourge of cities, becomes a mirror reflecting our own societal insecurities and the measures we take to counteract them. The animal's decision to dismantle the phrase 'SECURITY PROTECTED' is symbolic of the artist's scrutiny of the pervasive surveillance culture that has become commonplace. The artwork's medium – enamel and paper collage on a found card – is a commentary on the reclaiming of urban spaces. The materials themselves are repurposed, much like the public walls Banksy employs for his canvases. This medium transcends the traditional confines of gallery art, asserting that message and medium are inextricably linked in the realm of street art.

Furthermore, Banksy’s deliberate placement of the rat within the artwork – small, yet undeniably focal – captures the duality of the creature’s existence. On one hand, the rat is diminutive and seemingly insignificant; on the other, it is a figure of untamed cunning and survival. This duality echoes the public’s sentiment towards the street artist himself: often underappreciated by authorities yet celebrated by admirers of his art and his audacity. The work also subtly engages with the aesthetic principles of minimalism, as the stark white space surrounding the rat and the inscription amplifies the visual impact of the elements present. The red of the inscription is arresting, a signal that commands attention amidst the purity of the background, signifying danger, power, and control. The rat, depicted in black, is almost a shadow – a spectre that, despite its size, possesses the power to dismantle. Banksy’s choice of the rat as the disruptor is particularly poignant given the societal perception of rodents as pests. By positioning the rat as the protagonist in Security Protected, Banksy flips the script, suggesting that those deemed insignificant or unworthy by societal standards are capable of enacting significant change.

The year of creation, 2004, is also significant. It was a time of heightened global tensions and an increasing awareness of the importance of privacy in the face of surveillance. In this light, the artwork becomes a snapshot of the collective consciousness of the early 21st century.

“This piece, rooted in street art tradition, blurs the boundaries between public nuisance and societal commentary, reflecting on broader issues of personal freedom in the modern world.”

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

Rats in Banksy’s Oeuvre

In the world of Banksy, rats are a profound source of inspiration and a prolific subject within his portfolio. The rat is ingeniously transformed from a pest into an allegorical figure that reveals the vices and hypocrisies of humanity. Through these creatures, Banksy crafts a narrative for the unseen, the forgotten and those deemed "lesser than" by society. The artist himself reflected on the accidental cleverness of the rat as an anagram of art, a serendipitous coincidence that added depth to his use of the image as the fortuitous play on words aligns so perfectly with his artistic vision. Banksy's affinity for rats is reminiscent of the French stencil artist Blek le Rat, the pioneering figure in bringing urban art to the streets of France in the 1980s. Just as Blek le Rat saw the free spirit of the rat as a symbol worth spreading across the city, Banksy also personifies these animals, placing them in scenarios that serve as satirical comments on human folly.

Throughout his oeuvre, the rat is also seen as a representation of Banksy himself. Like the rats he paints, Banksy operates under the cloak of night, his identity and art existing on the fringes of legality. Both are often perceived as nuisances by the establishment – or Banksy at least used to be – yet both possess an undeniable impact on their environments. Banksy aligns himself with the rat, the ultimate underdog. By giving a voice to these animals, he also speaks for the oppressed, for those ground down by the relentless gears of capitalism and the 'rat race' that consumes so much of modern life.

In his book Wall and Piece, Banksy showcases over 30 representations of rats, underlining their prominence in his work. While murals featuring rats are primarily scattered across England—often discreet in size—the artist has also produced a notable series of prints in 2004 that spotlight various iconic rat characters, including Security Protected. This is a celebration of the underdog’s potential to challenge and subvert, to question and redefine.

Buy and sell artworks

Discover live market data against your collection

Discover live market data against your collection

The only dedicated prints portfolio management system in the world. Add your collection to track value in real time.

Track demand on our trading floor

Track demand on our trading floor

Track live demand in works from our artist's portfolios and view access to the works you're looking for.

What to <br />Invest in Now

What to
Invest in Now

Data-driven market commentary on what's driving growth, supply & demand in the Prints and Multiples market.