Picturing a downcast chimpanzee wearing a sandwich board, these Banksy prints bear the uplifting title and slogan, "Keep It Real." Despite his expression, Banksy's monkey is a defiant representative of society’s 'underdogs', who offers us the hopeful message that the reality of society—of the oppressed masses— will come to light.
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Banksy’s Keep It Real is an acrylic and spray-painted work on canvas, featuring a walking chimpanzee on a white background, carrying a sandwich board with the message ‘keep it real’. Banksy created it in 2003 as an edition of 15.
The artist made Keep It Real in the same year he made his other, now iconic, monkey artwork Laugh Now, featuring the same chimpanzee motif but carrying the message “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge”. Banksy has also made a third version of the board-carrying chimp, featuring the message “Lying to the police is never wrong”, but this was never released as editions. Together, Banksy’s chimpanzees are among his best-known animals, representing the disillusioned and downtrodden masses speaking out against their oppressors.
Unique artworks of Keep It Real include the chimp on a red background, and the chimp stencilled on a sheet of steel. The latter was exhibited in Barely Legal, Banksy’s infamous exhibition in Los Angeles in 2006.