A British street artist with an international reputation, over the last decade Banksy has become one of the UK’s best exports. His political and social commentary pieces make headlines globally and his print releases never fail to generate pandemonium. In our ongoing A-Z series, we are now introduced to two of Banksy’s queens.
Anonymous British Street Artist Banksy’s original screenprint, Monkey Queen, depicts a monkey wearing all the ornamentation of a Queen — crown, diamond necklace, and earrings – in front of a background of red, white, blue – just not that of the Union Jack, more the ‘target’ symbol synonymous with Mods.
The three colour artwork of the photo-realistic monkey in Banksy’s spray-stencil-style; is reminiscent of his earlier work Laugh Now, in which he prophesizes a society run by our primate cousins. Having a Monkey Queen would be the ultimate in monkeys taking over (as envisaged in Planet of the Apes).
This painting first appeared at a youth centre’s club called The Chill Out Zone on Broad Street in Newent in around 2004.
Morons is one of Banksy’s most scathing attacks on the extraordinarily high prices his, and many other artists, artworks generate.
This largely monochromatic original screenprint in Banksy’s signature style, portrays an auction room full of people in suits bidding for a number of artworks, including one in a gold frame (the only colour in the image) that reads, ‘I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit’. This artwork first appeared on Banksy’s site following a record-breaking auction result for one of his canvases. It was originally released as an unsigned edition at the Street Artist’s 2006 show Barely Legal in LA. Numbered out of 500, only 100 of this particular edition were ever put up for direct sale.
No Ball Games
This limited edition silkscreen print is one of Banksy’s more famous artworks. It shows two children – a boy and a girl — playing outside, and looking to be catching a ‘no ball games’ sign.
The image, portrayed in Banksy’s iconic stencil-style, is one of irony: the two children playing with a sign that says ‘no ball games’, as if it were a ball. It’s likely this largely monochromatic print (save for the red of the sign) is making a social comment on the ‘nanny state’, and how even fundamental children’s activities are now controlled and regulated. And maybe even encouraging children (and adults) a little to break those sort of rules…
The mural appeared on the side of a shop at the junction of Tottenham High Road and Philip Lane in 2009 but was cut out of the wall in and sold for charity.
This three-colour screenprint was first a piece of graffiti that appeared in 2008. It shows a young girl in black and white, in a dress beneath a black umbrella she is holding, holding her other hand out and feeling the rain that is pouring down. The background is a block grey.
Rendered in Banksy’s classic graffiti-spray-stencil style, this original artwork that originally appeared as a mural on a wall in New Orleans, is likely in reference to the hurricane Katrina that left the city in devastation not long before.
In an interview, Banksy said that piece of wall art represents how some of the things that are supposed to protect us, can also harm us. The girl standing should be protected from the rain, but it is instead it appears to be the source. She is holding out her hand to see if it is like that outside the umbrella. It could be suggested the painting is a comment on the lack-lustre reaction from the American government in the wake of the hurricane.
Queen Victoria, a largely monochromatic original screenprint save for the block maroon background, is one of Banksy’s more controversial paintings.
The artwork originally appeared as a mural on a wall in Bristol, and depicts a photo-realistic stencil of the monarch (complete with ruling garb, high-heeled boots, and suspenders) sitting on the face of a woman, with suspender-clad legs akimbo, in a very suggestive manner.
Never one to shy away from controversy and a little political and social criticism, with this painting the illusive Street Artist is directly referencing, and critsising with irony, Queen Victoria’s statement that “women are not able to be gay.” Queen Victoria went as far as passing anti-gay laws.
This limited edition Queen Victoria print was released in 2003 as an edition of 500 prints in total, 50 of which were signed.