Morons is a mainly monochromatic screenprint from 2006 portraying an auction room full of bidders. The artwork Morons was first seen on the occasion of the artist’s iconic American exhibition named « Barely Legal » which took place in a warehouse in Los Angeles in 2006. The piece was part of a set of six prints, referred to as the « Barely Legal Print Set », along with the works Grannies, Applause, Trolleys, Sale Ends and Festival. Morons is one of the most detailed works from the set. This whole collection of prints is among the most rare and valuable prints in urban art.
Morons was originally released as an unsigned edition of 100 at the artist’s well-known show Barely Legal, printed by Modern Multiples, that sold for $500 a piece. In 2007, Banksy’s UK-based printer Pictures of Walls re-edited additional Morons prints in three different colourways, with 500 unsigned prints in pure back and white, 150 signed prints in pure black and white and 300 signed prints on a sepia background. The original LA edition differs from those released by POW by an addition of a gold frame around the auctioned picture within the print. The artwork also appeared on Banksy’s website following a record-breaking auction result for one of his canvases.
The print is a satirical take on the contemporary art market which harshly blames the high prices some artists (including Banksy himself) can generate. The image is made in Banksy's signature black and white stencil style and represents a crowd of art collectors in suit gathered around an auctioneer. Among the paintings on display, the one up for sale is a large canvas surrounded by a golden frame, the only colour in the artwork.
The whole image is based on the historical moment when Van Gogh's Sunflowers achieved a hammer price of £22,500,000 at Christie’s on 30 March 1987, setting the record price for any work of art. This moment marked the beginning of big changes in the art market and the first ‘mega’ lot auctions for example. The canvas present in Banksy's Morons shows the words « I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU MORONS ACTUALLY BUY THIS SHIT ». This suggests that the crowd, and thus art collectors in general, is ready to bid huge sums of money to acquire Banksy's artwork, or any other works from famous artists. Ironically, the Morons screenprint was included in Sotheby’s 2014 exhibition and sale curated by Steve Lazarides entitled « Banksy: The Unauthorized Retrospective ».