Sid Vicious Banksy
Find out more about Banksy’s ‘Sid Vicious’ series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
Sid Vicious, painted circa 2000, is one of Banksy’s first canvases however the vibrant colour palette and format sets the work apart from much of the artist’s early output. A second edition was made the same year and includes a white target symbol spray painted in the middle of the canvas as if someone were taking aim at the punk rocker.
Here Banksy pays tribute to the bass guitarist and vocalist of the Sex Pistols, at the same time referencing the influence of Andy Warhol’s silkscreens. The sequence of nine portraits replicated in a grid formation is deliberately evocative of Warhol, whose repeated portraits of world-famous icons such as Marilyn Monroe in Marilyn Diptych and Shot Marilyns, and Elvis Presley in Elvis 21 Times and Eight Elvises have become shorthand for the Pop Art movement.
Sid Vicious embodied the punk subculture of the 1970s and 80s, his image standing for a group of artists, musicians, and members of the public who declared themselves to be opposed to convention, especially that of mass-produced popular music and consumerism. The Punk movement itself was characterised by its anti-establishment views and a wish for individual freedom.
Whilst Warhol’s Marilyn series presents a critique on mass production and consumerism associated with pop culture, Banksy challenges the concept further, using a well-known visual motif of Punk culture to question the cultural perspective of Pop Art whilst venerating the Punk musician and the Punk ideology.
Why is Sid Vicious important?
As well as being visually striking, the work demonstrates Banksy’s immense debt to Andy Warhol and the countercultures of the UK that allowed him to become the street art star he is today. The work is closely related to his 2005 version of Soup Cans which depicts a grid of Tesco tomato soup cans, an overt nod to Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup series to make a comment on consumerism using the iconography of Pop Art.
As in Sid Vicious, Banksy employs an iconic public symbol to demonstrate his point – in the case of Soup Cans, it is Tesco representing mass production, consumerism and capitalism, just as Sid Vicious represents rebellion and subculture.
Other references to Warhol’s influence can be seen in Banksy’s 2005 portrait of Kate Moss, where the artist reinvents the iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe with the face of Kate Moss, so as to present the supermodel as a British legendary icon.
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