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A prime example of Banksy-style black humour, His Master’s Voice or Rocket Dog (2003) reworks the popular music store chain’s logo. The HMV company emblem derives from a painting by the Liverpudlian artist Francis Barraud, and depicts a dog, called Nipper, listening intently to a cylinder phonograph.
Much like the original logo, the Banksy print depicts a seated dog in profile, facing a gramophone. Here, however, Banksy reinvents the image with his usual irony, portraying the anthropomorphic dog casually aiming a shoulder-mounted bazooka rocket directly into the horn of the gramophone.
The monochromatic composition is formally rendered in Banksy’s signature stencil style, but with the exclusive, inverse use of a black background with contrasting white detail in the foreground.
HMV was first tagged on the streets of Banksy’s hometown of Bristol. Then in 2003, the artist spray painted the HMV dog motif on the walls of the courtyard of the Cargo nightclub in London, this time with a yellow and orange background. Cargo can be found on Rivington Street in the middle of Shoreditch, an area that many consider being the thriving heart of street art in the UK capital. The renowned venue is built inside an old railway tunnel with brick walls laden with colourful graffiti. Acclaimed as a local masterpiece, Banksy's work has been protected by perspex for about 15 years, and crowds still gather today to see it.
Banksy's HMV dog appeared on paintings of various sizes in the early 2000s and was later released in 50cm x 35cm print format in 2003. It was released as an edition of 600 unsigned prints and only 150 signed HMV prints.