British street artist Banksy’s artwork Show me the Monet sold for $9.8 million (£7.6 million) at a Sotheby’s auction last week. The work surpassed its upper pre-sale estimate of £5 million. This makes it the second-highest price ever paid for Banksy’s artwork.
It was bought by an unidentified bidder at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction held on October 21.
The 2005 artwork reimagines Claude Monet’s career defining series of a Japansese footbridge in his water garden in Giverny, executed between 1897-1899. Monet painted twelve variations on this same composition depicting the same view at different times of the day, during different weather conditions and seasons of the year.
Banksy has combined elements from these paintings and added abandoned shopping trolleys and a traffic cone to the famous garden scene. It is his way of commenting on the impact of the corporate world on our environment and the sacrifices made at the expense of so-called ‘human progress’.
Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s European head of contemporary art, said the work was one of the strongest and iconic Banksy works to appear at auction.
It was acquired by the present owners directly from Banksy’s landmark 2005 exhibition Crude Oils: A Gallery of Re-mixed Masterpieces, Vandalism and Vermin.
“With its tongue-in-cheek pun of a title, Banksy’s painstakingly observed re-painting delivers a complex dialogue that tackles prescient issues of our time, such as the environment and the capitalist landscape of our contemporary moment, not to mention the art establishment and its current identity crisis. With a sumptuously rendered orange traffic cone and a thickly textured shopping trolley disrupting the romance of Monet’s iconic Impressionist masterpiece, Banksy’s version is more twenty-first century fly-tipping spot than timeless idyll. Delivered with the ironic dead-pan immediacy of a punchline, the underlying conceptual complexity at stake here belies its humour,” states Sotheby’s on its website.
Known for his controversial art, Banksy’s Devolved Parliament depicting the British Parliament populated by Chimpanzees sold for $12 million last year.
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