Banksy's Show Me The Monet

Year: 2005
Medium: Oil
Dimensions: 143 x 143cm
Last Hammer: £6,400,000 (Sotheby’s London, 2020)
Signed/Unsigned: Signed
This work by Banksy shows Monet's iconic Japanese Bridge at Giverny, interrupted by two shopping trolleys and traffic cone tossed in the pond.Show Me The Monet © Banksy 2005
Joe Syer

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

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Show Me The Monet is one of Banksy’s most famous works, a pivotal work that challenges the viewer to reconsider the relationship between historical reverence and modern critique. This painting, an oil on canvas, meticulously recreates Claude Monet's iconic Japanese Bridge over his pond in Giverny, only to disrupt the idyllic scene with symbols of modern consumerism: a bright orange traffic cone and two shopping trolleys submerged in the water. Sold for a staggering £7,551,600 at Sotheby's London in 2020, this piece underscores Banksy's critique of environmental neglect and capitalism, further elevating him as a decisive commentator on our contemporary times.

Show Me The Monet: Meaning and Analysis

known for his stencil-based street art. When engaging with Monet's work, Banksy does not merely replicate, but rather recontextualises the Impressionists’ commitment to capturing the ephemeral nature of light and landscape to critique the ephemeral nature of contemporary values. Monet, once considered a radical for his refusal to beautify the industrial impacts on the French landscape, finds a postmodern echo in Banksy, who introduces the detritus of consumer society into the serene garden scene​​. This deliberate anachronism speaks volumes, urging a reflection on the environmental degradation and the relentless advance of consumerism that have come to define the modern era. The conversation sparked by the work extends beyond environmental issues, touching on the crisis of identity within the art establishment, youth ennui and the capitalist landscape of our era. Banksy's work, through its humour and conceptual depth, challenges the romanticism often associated with fine art and its historical achievements​​​​ by introducing jarring contemporary issues.

Banksy invites us to consider our own place within these debates, urging a reevaluation of our impact on both the natural world and the cultural heritage we inherit and modify. His dialogue with Monet's legacy is ultimately a call to action, highlighting the urgency of addressing the consumerist and environmental challenges of our time. Through this work, Banksy bridges the gap between past and present, offering a poignant commentary on the intersection of art, history, and societal responsibility. Despite—or perhaps because of—its critical stance, Show Me The Monet achieved remarkable success in the art market, challenging notions of value and the commodification of dissent. The sale of this artwork at a record price highlights a paradox, as a critique of capitalism and consumer excess becomes itself a highly valued commodity within the same systems it intends to question​. This duality raises questions about the role of art in society and the ways in which the art market absorbs and neutralises critiques of capitalism.

“This work is a poignant example of Banksy bridging art, history, and societal responsibility -- urging a reevaluation of the impact of our consumer-driven culture.”

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

Banksy’s Crude Oils works

This piece was part of Banksy's 2005 Crude Oils exhibition, a gallery described as a "remix of masterpieces, vandalism, and vermin" which challenged the art world with its bold contrasts and thematic incisiveness. The exhibition itself was a testament to Banksy's ingenuity, selling artworks between £10,000 and £22,000 before public opening and featuring around 200 live rats which emphasised Banksy's disdain for the conventional art establishment​​. Crude Oils was a seminal exhibit, operational for the brief period of one week in a Notting Hill shop front at 100 Westbourne Grove, yet emerging as a cornerstone in his burgeoning fame. In it, 20 classically inspired oil paintings were reinterpreted with a modern twist and displayed alongside sculptures that blurred the distinction between art and vandalism in typical Banksy fashion. This blend of refined art with commonplace and disruptive elements epitomises his artistic method of using visual art for deep societal critique, upending traditional norms and expectations of aesthetics.

Unlike Show Me The Monet, which is entirely hand painted, many of the works on show were interventions onto old oil paintings acquired from local flea markets, transforming them into contemporary societal critiques with almost immeasurable artistic value. In inserting themes such as derelict vehicles, police tape, and cutting-edge technology into pastoral scenes and historic portraiture, Banksy contrasts traditional ideals of calm with modern chaos, urging viewers to ponder its effect on our perceptions of beauty, history and intrinsic value. The showcased vandalised classical statues, for example, show a Venus sporting a traffic cone hat – a common practice amongst the young population of Britain – and tattoos, advancing Banksy's study of contrast and critique. These modifications of classical aesthetics and symbols of cultural legacy with comical modern elements probe the endurance of art and its contemporary societal relevance.

Crude Oils, being Banksy's inaugural "traditional" exhibition within gallery walls, shattered all norms with its interactive elements and anti-establishment rhetoric. The live rats, in particular, transformed the gallery into an animated critique of societal structures, with the rats (typically viewed as vermin) celebrated for their adaptability and endurance. Their integration into the gallery blurred the lines between art and life, compelling visitors to interact with the exhibit on a direct, tangible level. The live rats, alongside the thematic exploration of societal decay through the alteration of classical art, highlight Banksy's dedication to challenging established norms.

Show Me The Monet: Exhibition History

Crude Oils, London, 2005

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