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A biting critique of modern man’s dependence on capitalist consumerism, Banksy’s Trolley Hunters was first produced in 2005 for his Barely Legal show. It depicts three cavemen bearing primitive weapons and crouched while hunting a herd of supermarket trolleys.
The artwork was released in various editions., with the first produced in 2005 known as Trolley Hunters Los Angeles Edition (Black & White): 150 signed and 500 unsigned prints. Trolleys was also a part of Banksy’s Barely Legal Print Set, a series of six prints which includes the works Applause, Festival, Grannies, Morons and Sale Ends, and which were sold at $500 a piece.
In 2007, Trolleys was re-released by Pictures on Walls of London in three different formats: 750 signed colour prints in a blue and yellow colourway, 500 unsigned white prints and 150 signed white prints. The UK release differs slightly to the LA edition; in the original Modern Multiples edition, the caveman on the right holds a hammer made from wood with a pointed piece of stone while the later Pictures On Walls edition shows the man holding a spear instead.
In the same year, Banksy made a special edition of Trolleys for his 2007 Santa's Ghetto pop-up shop in Bethlehem. Trolley Hunters (Bethlehem Edition) was released as 28 signed editions, printed on packaging paper.
“trolleys-banksy” © cliffwilliams / Trolleys © Banksy 2006
In 2006, Banksy held a momentous exhibition in Los Angeles called Barely Legal, which set the standard for street art exhibitions at the time and firmly established the artist’s name and reputation. His artwork Trolleys was released for this show as an original painting and a series of screen prints, which were originally titled Trolley Hunters.
Trolley Hunters (colour) © Banksy 2007
Like many of Banksy’s works, Trolleys is open to interpretations: some see the print as a comment on society’s desire to ‘hunt down’ and own symbols of shops and brands, while others see the print as a reflection on how society has changed because of consumerism – we no longer have the means to grow our own food, so rely on the big corporations to provide it for us.
Barely Legal LA Set © Banksy 2006
At Banksy’s Barely Legal exhibition, visitors had the chance to buy a special portfolio called Barely Legal (LA Set), which contained Trolleys, Grannies, Festival, Applause, Sale Ends, and Morons. Although 500 unsigned prints of each series were made, only 100 were released for the exhibition – making the Barely Legal prints among the artist’s rarest and most sought-after editions, and even more valuable when sold as a complete set.
After Barely Legal closed, Los Angeles-based printers Modern Multiples were ordered to destroy the plates for the six prints, so they could never be reproduced without the involvement of Banksy’s UK-based printer at the time, Pictures On Walls.
Trolley Hunters (Special Edition) © Banksy 2007