Banksy Trend Report Q2

Love
Rat

Find out more about Banksy's Love Rat series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.

All Prints & Editions

Banksy: Love Rat - Unsigned Print
Love Rat Unsigned Print 
Banksy

£35,000-£45,000 Guide

Banksy: Love Rat - Signed Print
Love Rat Signed Print 
Banksy

£70,000-£100,000 Guide

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Critical Review

Banksy’s Love Rat first appeared as a mural in Liverpool in 2004, before being reproduced as a limited edition print that same year. The rat itself is executed in the artist's signature monochromatic stencil style, shown brandishing a large paint brush in his paws, seemingly having just finished painting the outline of a bright red heart on a wall.

At first glance, it would seem that this Banksy print was intended to spread love on the streets where it was painted. However, the blood-red paint dripping, a popular Street Art technique, implies that the heart is in fact bleeding. Banksy even promoted this work on his website, pitching it jokingly as “ideal for a cheating spouse”. In fact then, Love Rat serves to remind us of love's potential to induce pain and suffering as well as joy and pleasure.

Rats are one of Banksy's greatest sources of inspiration and one of the most prolific subjects in his work. An anagram of “art”, the rat, along with the monkey, is an allegorical tool used by Banksy in his criticism of the human race. His animals are frequently anthropomorphised, having been granted human characteristics and positioned in unusual or comical situations revealing human vices and flaws.

To read more about Banksy's Rats, see our guide here.

10 Facts About Banksy's Rats

Wall and Piece by Banksy

Wall and Piece © Banksy 2005

1. Why does Banksy use rats in his artwork?

“I’d been painting rats for three years before someone said ‘that’s clever, it’s an anagram of art’ and I had to pretend I’d known that all along,” Banksy wrote in his book, Wall and Piece.

For Banksy, each rat brings his political and social commentary to life – they present street artists, rebels, the downtrodden masses and anyone who feels rejected by society. On another page from Wall and Piece, the artist wrote:

“Rats exist without permission. They are hated, hunted and persecuted. They live in quiet desperation amongst the filth. And yet they are capable of bringing entire civilisations to their knees. If you are dirty, insignificant and unloved then rats are the ultimate role model.”

Love Rat by Banksy

Love Rat © Banksy 2004

2. Banksy’s Love Rat was the first rat to be made into a print

Love Rat originally appeared as a mural on the streets of Liverpool. It was released as a print in 2004, in 150 signed and 600 unsigned editions. At first, it appears that Love Rat was intended to spread love, but the bleeding heart may be a reminder that love can cause pain and suffering, as well as joy. Banksy even promoted this idea, suggesting a Love Rat print is “ideal for a cheating spouse”.

Gangsta Rat (AP Green) by Banksy

Gangsta Rat (AP Green) © Banksy 2004

3. Banksy’s Gangsta Rat has the largest colour variations

Gangsta Rat, wearing a New York Mets baseball cap, a chain necklace and a boom box, is a homage to the urban art and music scene that was fashionable in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s. The tag behind it, ‘iPOW’, references Apple’s i-products, but POW stands for Banksy’s older printers, Pictures on Walls. The artwork originally appeared as a mural in London in 2004. Later that same year, Banksy released Gangsta Rat with a red ‘iPOW’ as 150 signed and 350 unsigned prints. In 2015, he re-released the print in six additional colourways, including pink, mint green, green, orange, blue and grey for special Dismaland VIP collectors.

Radar Rat by Banksy

Radar Rat © Banksy 2004