Get Out While You Can (Placard Rat) Banksy
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Get Out While You Can is part of the Placard Rat series, a trilogy of three screen prints released in 2004 featuring the artist’s iconic rat holding up a placard bearing the work’s title.
The inspiration behind the series comes from Get Out While You Can by author George Marshall, a book explaining exactly how to escape the rat race. A number of variations of the Placard Rat were painted by Banksy in the streets of London as well as many other rats, leading to the rodent becoming a signature motif, or even alter ego, for the artist.
Get Out While You Can shows a rat painted in the artist’s famous black and white stencilled style. The work was first seen on Chiswell Street in London, accompanied by the words ‘London Doesn’t Work’.
Here the rat, standing on its hind legs, is holding up a placard emblazoned with the words ‘Get Out While You Can’ in bright red or pink handwriting, the only splash of colour in the composition. By giving the figure of the rat a voice Banksy is speaking for those oppressed and defeated by the endless competition and consumerism of late capitalism.
The rat is wearing a necklace bearing a peace sign, and his holding of the sign implies he is engaged in a form of social protest as well as warning of a danger still to come. Perhaps Banksy sees something of himself in his infamous rat character as an artist who works under the radar, operating largely at night, and is considered by much of society to be a pest.
Why is Get Out While You Can important?
Get Out While You Can is regularly in demand; its relatively low edition size contributes to its desirability – there are just 75 Get Out While You Can (Placard Rat) signed prints and 100 unsigned prints.
This print descends from a period of intense activity for Banksy, between 2000 and 2005, when a multitude of rats – from very small and discreet to giant – began appearing in London, Liverpool and New York City.
Banksy’s rats represent an important iconography he uses to deliver political commentary, exposing the many flaws of the human race. They can take on a number of personas, from doorman, to anarchist, to photographer.
The artist’s affinity for rats is often attributed to the influence of French stencil artist Blek le Rat, also known as Xavier Prou, who is considered to be the ‘Father of stencil graffiti’. Hailed with sparking the urban art scene in France, Blek’s spray-painted stencils of rats first appeared in Paris on the banks of Seine about 20 years before Banksy first hit the streets of the UK.
Why we love Get Out While You Can… ‘Rats are one of Banksy’s most prolific subjects and an iconic motif in the artist’s early works, and this work, with its wry humour, is a classic for any collector.’ - Joe Syer.
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