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Banksy’s 2006 print Sale Ends juxtaposes classical religious imagery with symbols of capitalism in his typical satirical style.
Imbued with the artist’s characteristic wit, it shows a group of four cloaked women starkly outlined in Banksy’s black-and-white stencilled style, 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.Though, instead of a cross, Banksy has inserted a bold red sign bearing the words ‘SALE ENDS TODAY’ in large white capitals. 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 religious devotion to consumerist culture.
Part of the Barely Legal series, this Banksy print was made as an edition of 100 unsigned works which sold at the show for $500 apiece. Further prints in the series included Morons, Applause, Trolleys, Grannies and Festival, and 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 which they released a few remaining print editions as well as 400 prints of Sale Ends which were a reworking of the original 2006 version.
With its careful balance of satire and tradition, this work shows Banksy at the height of his powers. Here the artist is pointing at the near-religious fervour with which contemporary society regards consumerism, particularly around such events like Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day. The women in Sale Ends seem to be both mourning the last day of the sale and worshipping capitalism, making this an important piece of criticism as well as a striking work of art.
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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.
"Crucifixion, Giotto" by f_snarfel is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
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.
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.
Sale Ends © Banksy 2006