Banksy - Iconic Images

Tanya Baxter Contemporary
Oct 22, 2019 4:15PM

Banksy Girl With Balloon & Bomb Hugger, two of his most iconic images.

Banksy - Bomb Love, 2003, spray paint on cardboard, unique in its format, 36 x 32.5 cm, includes Pest Control Certificate of Authenticity

British artist Banksy is famed for his anonymity and his headline making and often controversial street art. Born in Bristol, he takes inspiration from the Bristol underground scene, and claims that his distinctive style, a combination of stencil and graffiti writing, developed out of a need to quickly create large scale works. Today Banksy's work appears internationally and he has become one of the most sought after artists on the market. In 2008 his painting (a defaced Damien Hirst original) I, sold at Auction for $1.7 million. Most recently Devolved Parliament sold for an astonishing $12 million at Sotheby's, setting an auction high for his work.

The above work, Bomb Love, painted in 2003, showcases one of Banksy's most iconic images, which was used for demonstrations against the Iraq War in 2003. This particular example is unique in its format and extremeley rare. The fact that this work incorporates his stencil work and a unique medium of cardboard make it all the more unique.


Banksy often promotes alternative political notions with his unique combinations of street art and distinctive stencilling. Many believe that his works providea voice for those living in urban environments, and improves the aesthetic quality of urban surroundings. Others disagree, asserting that it is vandalism. Whatever it is, the attention has created a buzz cult around the artist, which has driven up his auction results and overall demand worldwide.

Girl with Balloon, 2004/2005, screenprint on paper, signed, 70 x 50 cm, AP, includes Pest Control COA

Girl with Balloon is one of Banksy's most notable works, demonstrating the graffiti stencil tecnique he has become renowned for. This work was released as an unsigned and signed print in 2004/2005 and is one of the most sought after images for Banksy collectors. The work depicts a young girl, whose hair and dress are blowing in the wind, reaching for, or releasing, a heart shaped balloon that has slipped from her grasp. Whether you see the girl as losing the balloon, or about to catch it, the meaning can be interpreted as a loss of innocence, or the arrival of hope and love.

Accompanied by the quotation 'there is always hope', Girl with Balloon originally appeared in London's Southbank; though the city council ordered it to be painted over. Girl with Balloon has grown to become one of Banksy's most iconic works, as such he has produced it in many new contexts; a miniature ersion on the cardboard backing of a cheap Ikea frame; another version painted in Shoreditch near Liverpool Street station.

In 2014 Banksy reworked Girl with Balloon to mark the third anniversary of the civil war in Syria. The redesigned image was used to promote #withsyria, a campaign to raise awareness and rally support for the victims of the three year long conflict. In this version the girl appears with a headscarf to depict a Syrian refugee. For the General Election on June 8, 2017 Banksy once again reworked the image, this time with the heart shaped balloon coloured as the Union Jack. The artist announced that he would send a free pritn of his new work to anyone who coudl prove they voted against the Conservatives, however, he has to withdraw this offer when advised by the Electoral Commission that the free print offer would invalidate the election result.

In July 2017, a poll of 2,000 people in the UK ranked Girl with Balloon as the most favourite British piece of art. A year later Girl With Balloon became the subject of one of the most talked about public art stunts in history, when a signed canvas of the work self-destructed in front of the entire salesroom of Sotheby's immediately after selling for £1.4 million. Banksy posted an image of the work shredding itself on his own Instagram feed the same day, with the caption 'Going, going, gone...'. Pest Control gave the work a new title, Love is in the Bin.



Tanya Baxter Contemporary