Monkey Queen Banksy
Find out more about Banksy’s Monkey Queen series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
Monkey Queen is a provocative screen print that was created in 2003 as part of an edition of 600 unsigned prints and only 150 signed prints. Pictures on Walls described the work as “Celebrate the fact that the highest position in British society is not a reward for talent or hard work but is simply handed out with the accident of birth. God Save The Queen”.
Monkey Queen was first publicly displayed as a wall painting at a youth club called The Chill Out Zone on Broad Street in Newent, where it remained on the wall of the club for several months before being moved to the front window.
This made headlines, referred to in the news as “Banksygate”, following complaints that the painting was disrespectful to the monarchy and to the national flag. The youth club was asked by the government not to display this image during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. This raised issues regarding the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression and the youth leaders at The Chill Out Zone eventually replaced the painting with a more palatable poster of the Union Jack.
In 2012, Banksy also painted a far less controversial portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, appearing in all of her royal fineries but also sporting Ziggy Stardust’s iconic lightning bolt makeup, on the streets of Bristol, the artist’s home city. It was painted on the occasion of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to honour her 60 years on the throne.
Monkey Queen superimposes the black and white stencilled face of a monkey onto Queen Elizabeth II’s iconic bust image. Only the Queen’s hair, crown and jewellery are identifiable. The monochrome visage appears on a target background composed of red, white and blue, immediately evocative of the Union Jack.
Why is Monkey Queen important?
Monkey Queen epitomises Banksy’s artistic identity. The satirical image overtly criticises the British monarchy. Aligning the Queen with a primitive animal, the artist evidently suggests that he believes the country is being run by apes. The monkey, one of Banksy’s trademark figures, is reminiscent of his earlier work Laugh Now, depicting a monkey wearing a sandwich board that predicts a society run by primates.
Why we love Monkey Queen… ‘Like the Sex Pistols before him, Banksy knows an iconic subject – and an easy target – when he sees one. With Monkey Queen the street artist manages to both celebrate and denigrate centuries of British imperialism, and this controversial work has won him many fans and haters alike.’ - Joe Syer
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