Banksy Trend Report Q1
Banksy™ Clock

Banksy™ Clock
Mixed Media


Mixed Media, 2019
Mixed Media

Critical Review

Gross Domestic Product began life as a showroom in Croydon, displaying a range of artworks that could only be viewed from the street. Within hours of it launching on 1 October 2019 it had attracted thousands of Banksy fans, collectors and critics who came to get a look at this free exhibition as well as to find out how they could get their hands on these pieces. A notice on the wall informed that Banksy’s new ‘homewares brand’ had come about as a result of a greeting card company attempting to trademark the artist’s name. In order to avoid that happening Banksy decided to sell his own line of ‘domestic products’ which could be made accessible to all by the setting of low prices and the introduction of a lottery system. Rather than operate on the usual ‘first come first served’ basis of retail, in order to buy one of his pieces collectors had to go to the GDP website and ‘apply’ for a product/artwork. The initiative mirrors Keith Haring's Pop Shops of the 70s and 80s as well as American artist KAWS’ way of selling his limited edition toys directly to his fans, first through his OriginalFake stores and now through his website. Updating the concept for the age of late capitalism, Banksy ensured his latest stunt went viral and that these pieces would become enduring collector’s items.

When notorious street artist Banksy infiltrated the online market with his Gross Domestic Product shop, it was unsurprising to find a range of artworks that perfectly encapsulated the artist’s satirical wit. Among these was the Banksy™ Clock, an ‘upcycled’ office clock featuring an important piece of iconography in the artist’s oeuvre, the rat. Running up one side of the clock’s face as if stuck in a wheel, the rodent represents the endless rat race we find ourselves in. Whether clocking in or clocking off, the rat is forever trapped in what Banksy terms as the ‘relentless and steady ticking towards the great unknown.’

Originally described as being suitable for ‘home, office or Home Office,’ this is a classic piece from Banksy’s oeuvre that while strikingly contemporary also looks back to his earlier works such as Love Rat, Radar Rat and Gangsta Rat which originally began life as graffiti and are now highly collectable editioned prints. These works and the clock also provide important reference points to Banksy’s evolution as an artist, in their nods to French street artist Blek le Rat who Banksy credits with inspiring his stencilled style.

Commenting upon his adoption of the rat as a symbol Banksy has said, ‘If you are dirty, insignificant and unloved then rats are the ultimate role model.’ In this way the artist appears to use the symbol of the rat as a way of aligning himself with the wretched and the underdogs whom he often speaks for in his more political works, casting himself as a kind of Robin Hood figure who mocks the rich to please the poor.

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