In his Trolleys prints, Banksy portrays three caveman-like "hunters", complete with spears, stalking a herd of shopping trolleys. Self-sufficiency is defunct in a Western society ruled by consumerism, and Banksy's "Trolleys" critiques our naivety by underlining this fact.
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A biting critique of mankind’s subjection to capitalist consumerism in the contemporary age, Banksy’s Trolley Hunters was first produced in 2005 for his Barely Legal show. The print depicts three cavemen bearing primitive weapons; in poised, crouched positions, they are shown hunting not for wild animals, but for a herd of supermarket trolleys.
The artwork was released in various editions. The first, produced in 2005, was titled Trolley Hunters Los Angeles Edition (Black & White); it comprised 150 signed and 500 unsigned prints. Trolleys was also a part of Banksy’s Barely Legal Print Set - a series of six prints that included the works Applause, Festival, Grannies, Morons and Sale Ends. Initially, these works were sold for $500 a piece.
In 2007, Trolleys was re-released by London-based print house Pictures on Walls in three different formats: 750 signed colour prints in a blue and yellow colourway were issued alongside 500 unsigned white prints and 150 signed white prints. The UK release of Trolleys differs slightly from the LA edition: in its original, Modern Multiples version, the caveman on the right of the image holds a hammer made from wood and complete with a pointed piece of stone. The later Pictures On Walls edition, by contrast, shows the man holding a spear.
In 2007, Banksy made a special edition of Trolleys for his Santa's Ghetto pop-up shop in Bethlehem, held in the same year. Trolley Hunters (Bethlehem Edition) was released as 28 signed editions and printed on packaging paper.
Image © 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 (Special Edition) © 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.
The rarest colourway, this print is one of only 150. (Trolley Hunters (Special Edition) © Banksy 2007)