Find out more about Banksy’s Barcode series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
Since his beginnings on the street art and graffiti scene, Banksy has been notorious for his social commentary on many controversial subjects from police brutality to the refugee crisis, war and animal cruelty.
Barcode first appeared on the side of a house on Pembroke Road in Bristol. The stencil was quickly removed from the wall in August 2010 and unexpectedly resurfaced after four years on the occasion of a school exhibition in Somerset. The work was first seen at auction in March 2012, selling at Bonhams, New Bond Street, in their Urban Art Sale.
Estimated at auction for £60,000 – £80,000 the print had been acquired directly from an exhibition entitled Existencilism at the 33 1/3 Gallery in Los Angeles. More recently, in June 2016, Bonhams sold another Barcode original at their Post-War and Contemporary Art sale.
The monochromatic palette, often employed by Banksy to emphasise his powerful message, depicts a majestic leopard seemingly emerging from a barcode that resembles a cage on wheels. Like many of Banksy’s works, the artwork allows for several interpretations; the barcode, introduced in the mid-1970s was intended to make people buy more and faster and here it is used as a symbol of consumerism and capitalism. Banksy employs it to resemble a cage from which a creature can and must escape. The leopard can be seen to be demonstrating the ability we all have to free ourselves from the shackles of consumerism.
On the other hand, another interpretation links the choice of the leopard and the barcode by their unique character. Just as all leopards have a unique pattern of spots, all barcodes have unique combinations too. The big cat embodies the diversity of form, whereas the notion of consumerism suggested through the image of the barcode evokes homogeneity.
In Banksy's composition, this link can be seen to refer to the way in which an individual’s unique and private information is now easily bought and sold, to be integrated into giant data banks. The work has also been seen as a less complex comment on the treatment of animals placed in cages by humans for their amusement, in zoos or sea-parks, or the poaching of wild animals and their illegal trade.
Why is Barcode important?
Barcode belongs to the artist’s celebrated early works and dates back to 2004. The monochrome screen print is among Banksy’s most famous and thus most sought-after works. There are only 150 Barcode prints signed by the artist and 600 unsigned prints.
Why we love Barcode… ‘It’s a classic Banksy paradox, where two seemingly disparate forms – one a symbol of nature and life and the other of technology and control – stand together to make the viewer question everything.’ - Joe Syer
How do I buy Barcode?
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