We’re breaking down the Banksy portfolio, going through each piece, considering, dissecting and opining – so if you’re looking to buy or sell artwork by Banksy, you’ll be in the know before you take the plunge.
Di Faced Tenners
The Di Faced Tenner has become one of British Street Artist Banksy’s most notorious works. It is a counterfeit ten-pound note, which, instead of the queen’s portrait, replaces it with the iconic princess Diana – whose life and death provoked an international media sensation. The piece is especially witty due to Diana’s estrangement and critique of the royal family, and the pun on the term “defaced” (di-faced).
In 2004, Banksy printed a total of ‘one million pounds’ worth of his Di Faced Tenners. The subverted note — which also has the words “Banksy of America” on it — were dropped into a crowd at the 2004 Notting Hill Carnival, and later the same year, at the Reading Festival. Throwing them into a crowd of inebriated youths lead to the work’s accidentally being used (or attempting to be used) as actual payment in London.
Unfortunately Banksy’s counterfeit currency is often counterfeited, for example: Di Faced Tenners were said to be distributed as change at his recent foray with ‘bemusement parks’ at Dismaland, but a spokesperson confirmed this was a “hoax”.
Donuts, Banksy’s largely monochromatic, original silkscreen print, portrays an American police van flanked by American police on motorbikes (who’s blue and red flashing lights are among the splashed of colour in this artwork), but on top of the police van is a giant donut – this limited edition print, created in 2009, comes in two ‘flavours’: a pink strawberry donut, or a brown chocolate one – complete with sprinkles.
This is one of few Banksy artworks that was not a graffiti piece originally, but designed on canvas, and is making a statement about police values: in America the police are notorious for their love of coffee and donuts (as frequently portrayed on The Simpsons) and perhaps how they prioritise the safety of their snacks over their prisoners? On the surface, as with many of Banksy’s pieces, it appears very humorous; but it is rare for Banksy to create a piece that doesn’t have some form of social, environmental, or political message.
This limited edition silkscreen print, finished with water colour, was not originally Street Art, but from a film the graffiti artist created titled, Rebel Rocket Attack, Banksy released the film on his website in 2013 as part of his residency in New York. The film showed what appeared to be Islamic militants using rocket launchers to bring down Dumbo the elephant (a small child kicks one of the older extremists at the end), released with a statement from the artist saying, ‘I’m not posting any pictures today. Not after this shocking footage has emerged.’
The artwork seems to say many things: Dumbo signifying the American planes sent to the middle east to fight the Islamic extremists – but it also showing how easy it is to create propaganda videos that people might believe as truth. Commenters on the clip believed it “reflects the way we’ve been granted an insight into the Syrian conflict through videos uploaded onto the internet.”
The 2014 print, mostly black and white save for Dumbo’s corn-yellow watercolour hat, depicts a frazzled Dumbo lying on the ground as the extremists celebrate on top of and around him.
Commenting on how music festivals, originally independent hotbeds of everything unorthodox have become capitalized events; as misfits (punks, goths, and hippies) queue up in a long line to buy $30 red t-shirts that red ‘Destroy Capitalism’.
This three-colour screen print has a grey background, with back and white figures queuing for the red t-shirts. There were only 100 of this put up for sale when it was released in 2006 at Banksy’s show in LA, Barely Legal. The prints were part of his ‘LA Edition’, which also included Grannies, Trolleys, Morons and Applause. Festival prints are numbered out of 500, but only 100 were ever sold.
There are a limited number of signed prints in circulation (low edition numbers and proofs), but these never went on general sale.
This original limited edited screen-print by Banksy comes in two different colours: silver and gold – the silver being the most prevalent as 1000 prints were released as part of the graffiti artists Santa’s Ghetto show on Oxford Street in London in 2006. Banksy’s website states: “an extremely limited number of silver Flags were available on formica from Lazarides. Printed on hard board, these were signed (with Banksy’s signature scratched into the surface) from an edition of 20.” The gold edition of Flags was available to buyers in person at the 2007 Santa’s Ghetto in Bethlehem – 112 of these were all signed.
Flags is a subversion of the famous World War II photograph of U.S. Marines raising the American flag after the battle of Iwo Jima. Banksy’s version of the image depicts children lifting the American flag on top of a demolished, burnout car, with a large gold sun/silver sun or moon. It has been suggested this might be a comment on the amount of money America spends on war, leaving millions unsupported in ghettos – with young people often left little option but to recruit, and fight in these wars, to get a job. The silver edition of this artwork is also reminiscent of images of the 1969 moon landing – another American adventure in victory.