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- Medium: Mixed Media
- Format: Unique
- Year: 2019
- Signed: Yes
Rug takes the well known character of Tony the Tiger – originally created to sell Frosties, a popular breakfast cereal – and reveals him as the puppet of capitalism that encourages children to consume high levels of sugar to the detriment of their dental health.
Banksy™, Rug, 2019
Playing with the old colonial motif of the hunting trophy turned into cosy furnishings for your country pile, this Banksy™ Rug takes the well known character of Tony the Tiger – originally created to sell Frosties, a popular breakfast cereal – and reveals him as the puppet of capitalism that encourages children to consume high levels of sugar to the detriment of their dental health.
Here Tony has been skinned and splayed out across the floor, his orange and black fur rendered into a fluffy carpet while his head is cast in resin, his mouth opened wide to reveal not a fearsome set of gnashers but instead a paltry selection of teeth, seemingly rotted away by the sugar in his product. The original description to accompany the piece stated that this was ‘the diabetes riddled corpse’ of Tony, suggesting it would make ‘quite the conversation piece – especially if the conversation centres around the UK spending over £7.8million a year on tooth extractions for the under 5’s.’ Here Banksy’s message is explicit, though as usual it is cloaked in the dark humour we have come to associate with his artworks. While offering an entertaining distraction from daily life, at the same time he uses satire to shine a light on the darker aspects of capitalism, including the kind of advertising that preys on the suggestibility of young children to sell them things that they don’t need or that are bad for them.
This anti-capitalist message can be seen throughout Banksy’s oeuvre, in his earlier works of street art and in prints such as Festival (Destroy Capitalism), Sale Ends Today, and Christ with Shopping Bag. In fact the whole Gross Domestic Product venture, where this piece originally appeared, could be said to embody Banksy’s often confusing relationship with capitalism. On the one hand works such as these seem to represent his status as an outsider in the art world, fighting to keep his work on the streets in order for it to remain free and accessible to the general public, while at the same time he releases limited edition prints and artworks through an online shop immediately raising his profile and value on the market. GDP was not designed as a traditional shop however.
From its launch as a showroom that never opened in Croydon, South London, to its quasi lottery system that meant buyers could not secure his artworks on a first come, first served basis, GDP was an attempt to circumvent traditional models of retail and to keep his works out of the hands of the kinds of collectors who would buy them for investment alone.
Here we have the embodiment of the dichotomy of art and commercialisation that has come to characterise Banksy’s latest ventures including Dismaland and GDP. While at once the tiger seems to poke fun at the empire and its free markets, a second look at this clever double entendre forces us to think harder about the artist's intention.
Banksy is undoubtedly the world’s most sought-after and talked about street artist, his work represents his political and social commentary on the world, and has appeared on city walls throughout it – from London to New York, from Jamaica to the Gaza Strip.
Banksy is not only known for his high profile murals, he has been releasing limited edition prints for many years, produced in various formats, including signed and unsigned works, as well as artist proofs and gift prints. However, only a very select number of people know exactly what the elusive street artist creates and how many he releases. Some editions, for example, are only made available to VIPs, collectors and friends of Banksy’s who are part of the much-coveted inner circle. This has only made the demand for his limited edition silkscreen prints and artists proofs in circulation, grow in popularity year on year. Learn more about street artist Banksy.