Toxic Mary by Banksy - Unsigned Screen Print

Toxic Mary Banksy

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

Banksy’s Toxic Mary first appeared as a painting at Turf War, the street artist’s first major show which took place in an East London warehouse in Dalston in 2003. The screen print, in Banksy’s characteristic stencilled style, shows a woman cloaked in drapery feeding her infant son, and draws many parallels with classic Renaissance paintings of the Madonna and Child. However this bold and controversial artwork – some have even called it blasphemous – breaks firmly with tradition; here the Virgin Mary is feeding her baby with a bottle, and one marked with the ancient symbol for poison – the skull and crossbones – no less.

It is interesting to note that the work varies formally from Banksy’s usual style, with the clean lines of the stencil swapped for what looks like dripping paint that runs past the frame of the main image in a striking trompe l’oeil effect. However the print does share a similar theme and style with his later work Christ with Shopping Bags made in 2004 which also uses religious iconography to criticise mass consumerism and capitalism, and denounces the perversion of Christian values, especially the celebration of Christmas.

With its dull colours brought into relief by the yellow of the toxic bottle and the drips that seem to show the scene melting before our eyes, the print is undoubtedly one of Banksy’s darker works, evoking a sense of despair without any of the usual humour he employs to lift a bleak attack on society to witty satire.

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