Grin Reaper by Banksy

Grin Reaper Banksy

Find out more about Banksy’s ‘Grin Reaper’ series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.

Grin Reaper is a limited edition screen print by Banksy that was released in 2005 as an edition of just 300 signed prints. It is one of the artist’s earliest and most recognisable works, depicting the skeletal figure of the Grim Reaper.

Holding his traditional scythe and seated casually upon a large clock face, the traditional hooded visage of Death has been disconcertingly replaced with a bright yellow smiley face. Banksy originally painted this image on Old Street in East London, the same neighbourhood where the artist first tagged with the DryBreadZ Crew. Unfortunately, the original mural was whitewashed in 2007.

Grin Reaper is rendered in the artist’s iconic style, consisting of black and white stencilled forms on a monochromatic background. The clock, imitating London’s iconic Big Ben, reads five minutes to midnight, as if the Reaper is waiting for the hour to strike before carrying out his morbid duties. The flat, yellow smiley face stands out as the only brightly coloured element of the whole screen print.

Generally associated with ’90s rave and acid-house culture, the smiley face presents the sinister Reaper as a pseudo-friendly character, playing with the boundaries between good and evil. In fact, this mask with its empty grimace could be seen as equally menacing.

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