For those of you who haven’t heard of Banksy, it’s time to listen in. We are currently in the middle of an artistic boom where nearly anyone can create an impactful piece of art and have it known with just a few connections. As Banksy puts it himself, “this is the first time the essentially bourgeois world of art has belonged to the people.” Banksy is a graffiti artist, painter, activist, and filmmaker who pushes the limits of art by creating street works. His work critiques aspects of society such as war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed using stencils of the royal family, policemen, rats and children to convey his message.
Banksy chooses to keep his identity a secret to protect himself from prying fans and the police. However, since the 1990’s, Banksy’s street art began popping up around the city of Bristol and London and eventually many other cities around the world. Despite his growing fame, his identity remains a mystery.
One of Banksy’s most popular pieces is “Girl with Balloon” which was originally spray painted on a wall in London. However, on October 5th, 2018 Banksy’s painting of “Girl with Balloon” was sold at Sotheby’s auction for $1.4 million. As soon as the auctioneer dropped the gavel finalizing the sale, an alarm sounded, and the painting started to self-shred. After the initial shock, the painting ultimately sold for an even larger sum. The mystery surrounding Banksy and his satirical works of art have made his pieces extremely sought after, especially by celebrities.
However, lucky for us normal people, just a few days ago, Banksy opened up an online store named Gross Domestic Product. As shoppers enter onto the store’s page, they are met with a notice stating that the products are not sold on a first come first serve basis. Banksy has created products that feature some of his most popular works and sells them at a more affordable price so that some of his lower-income admirers can have an opportunity to own something “Banksy”. Until October 28th, shoppers can browse the website and put their names on a list for a product. The catch is that each shopper can only put their name down for one product and they will be asked to answer one simple questions. Buyers are asked to make their answer the question “as amusing, informative or enlightening as possible.” The question that each shopper is asked at check-out is, “Why does art matter?”
So what does that mean for us? Until October 28th, we can browse Banksy’s products on his Gross Domestic Product website. All we need to do is come up with a creative response to his question “ Why does art matter?” and hope that Banksy deems our response as valid. Until then, happy shopping ;)