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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’. It was created in 2003 as an edition of 15.
Keep It Real was made in the same year as Banksy’s 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.