Banksy's Sale Ends pokes fun at the gods of contemporary culture—commercial brands— and our blind devotion to consumerism. The series shows four figures arrayed in a parody of ecclesiastical paintings of the Lamentation of Christ—a red sign advertising "SALE ENDS TODAY" tellingly takes the place of Jesus.
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Banksy’s 2006 print Sale Ends juxtaposes classical religious imagery with symbols of capitalism in the artist's typically satirical style.
Imbued with a sense of the artist’s characteristic wit, the work shows a group of four cloaked women; brought to life in Banksy’s textbook, black-and-white stencil style, the figures are set against a white background. Prostrated in front of the sign, the women are reminiscent of the lamenting figures typically seen at the base of the crucifixion in Renaissance paintings. The difference? In his image, Banksy substitutes a cross for a bold red sign bearing the words 'SALE ENDS TODAY', written in large white capital letters. Evoking typical shop signs designed to catch people’s attention and make them buy products they don’t necessarily need, the work is an obvious critique of our materialistic society and reflects our almost religious devotion to consumerist culture.
Part of the Barely Legal series, this Banksy print was made as an edition of 100 unsigned work. It was put up for sale at Banksy's eponymous show, with a price tag of $500 apiece. Further prints in the series included Morons, Applause, Trolleys, Grannies and Festival; together, the set is considered to be one of the rarest collections of street art on the market. In 2007 Pictures on Walls re-released Sale Ends with an additional 150 signed Sale Ends prints.
When Pictures On Walls announced in 2017 they had ‘been taken over by venture anti-capitalists and will cease trading from 31st December 2017’, they held a closing down sale. During this, they released a few remaining print editions, as well as 400 Sale Ends prints, which were a reworking of the original 2006 version.
Sale Ends © Banksy 2006
Banksy’s Sale Ends deftly blends together high art with high street shopping, comparing society’s devout consumerism to religious passion. The figures mourn the end of the discount sales and events such as Black Friday in the same way that religious masterpieces once depicted Jesus’s followers lamenting his crucifixion.
Image © f_snarfel / Crucifixion © Giotto di Bondone c.1320
Banksy’s print depicts four women gathered around a central red sign announcing “Sale Ends Today”. Although they have been drawn in Banksy’s classic black and white stencil style, the details in their long and flowing robes, their gestures and their expressive faces were inspired by Renaissance and Old Masters-style religious paintings. (See the example by Giotto di Bondone above, for example.)
Barely Legal (LA Set) © Banksy 2006
Visitors to Banksy’s Barely Legal exhibition in Los Angeles in 2016 had the chance to buy a special portfolio called Barely Legal (LA Set), which contained Sale Ends, Grannies, Applause, Festival, Trolleys and Morons. These are now among Banksy’s rarest and most sought-after prints - even more valuable when sold as a complete set.
Each print from the set measures 50 x 70cm, and is a landscape-configured screenprint in black and white, most with an additional pop of colour. The visual simplicity of each print, owing to Banksy's stencil style and limited colour palette, displays the artist's clear talent for creating long-lasting, recognisable, and effectively simple images.
Sale Ends © Banksy 2006