25 Street Art Gift Ideas
Banksy Grin (Grim) Reaper. 2003. 63 x 80 cm.
This astounding artwork is the remnants of what was a Banksy Grin Reaper placard that would have most likely been nailed to a wooden batten and probably used in an anti war demonstration in 2003. Same large size as seen in photo 3 with front singer 3D From Massive Attack demonstrating in front of Big Ben in 2003 holding a similar placard. 3D is often suggested by the popular press as being Banksy (but he is not).
It was left, discarded presumably when it became too damaged to be utilised during the hustle and bustle of the demonstration march it was being proudly displayed in. Photo 2 is a rare photo and very early of the artist working in disguise on a "grin reaper" on cardboard.
The placards you see on mostly american auctions are fakes made with inspiration from Banksy Lithographs. So they get the size wrong and there are other details to look out for.
Provenance: Private collection UK, Dean Bull UK.
Banksy’s Grin Reaper is one of the earliest known street art themes from the artist. It appeared in London’s Old street neighborhood where Banksy first tagged with the DryBreadZ Crew. Sadly, most of the examples of this piece were covered in London’s 2007 anti-graffiti sweep, but Banksy reproduced the popular “Smiley Grim Reaper Death On A Clock” image in an iconic 2005 limited edition screen print with 300 signed pieces.
Banksy’s Grin Reaper sits hunched over the face of the London Tower clock with his symbolic scythe in hand and his bare, skeleton feet swinging over the clock’s hands. The clock’s hands are at 5 minutes from midnight. Although the clock and Reaper are printed only in black and white on a gray background, the black cloak of the reaper is printed in an extremely painterly manner that makes the print look like a hand-drawn artwork.
The strangest part of the image is the face of the Grin Reaper, appropriately a pun on the classic “Grim Reaper” because the visage is a flat yellow “Smiley” icon. The bright, simply-drawn Smiley presents such a childlike design of contentment that it is ripe for subversion, having been associated with both the acceptance and vilification of 1960s/1970s peace ideals and 1980s/1990s acid house culture (not to mention hundreds of other positive and negative pop culture appropriations). Here the symbolism is clearly negative, signaling the placid, unbiased face of death as it waits for the hour to strike upon its unpreventable killing job. Grin Reaper is a haunting image that is at once friendly and sinister (Text from Hexagon).
Whether plastering cities with his trademark parachuting rat, painting imagined openings in the West Bank barrier in Israel, or stenciling “We’re bored of fish” above a penguins’ zoo enclosure, Banksy creates street art with an irreverent wit and an international reputation that precedes his anonymous identity. “TV has made going to the theatre seem pointless, photography has pretty much killed painting,” he says, “but graffiti has remained gloriously unspoilt by progress.” Banksy has gained his notoriety through a range of urban interventions, from modifying street signs and printing his own currency to illegally hanging his own works in institutions such as the Louvre and the Museum of Modern Art. Most often using spray paint and stencils, Banksy has crafted a signature, immediately identifiable graphic style—and a recurring cast of cops, soldiers, children, and celebrities—through which he critically examines contemporary issues of consumerism, political authority, terrorism, and the status of art and its display.
British, Bristol, United Kingdom
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