An artist will whitewash a Banksy mural to protest the buying and selling of street art.
Ron English standing in front of a Banksy mural he recently bought and plans to whitewash as an act of protest. Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images.
U.S. street artist Ron English just bought a Banksy for $730,000 and is planning to whitewash it in protest of the market’s co-opting of street art.
“We're tired of people stealing our stuff off the streets and reselling it so I'm just going to buy everything I can get my hands on and whitewash it,” English told the Press Association. Elaborating on his plans for the Banksy, he added: “I'm going to paint over it and just include it in one of the walls in my house.”
The Banksy work in question is a mural titled Slave Labour (Bunting Boy) (2012) that the secretive British street artist painted on the exterior of a store in north London in 2012. Shortly thereafter it was removed, wall and all. The mural depicts a young boy working at a sewing machine, cranking out bunting featuring the British flag—which is rendered not in paint, but as a plastic, store-bought decoration. English bought it at a street and contemporary art sale at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
English’s planned anti-market stunt comes more than a month after Banksy’s own anti-market coup, when his Girl With Balloon (2006) partially shredded itself at Sotheby’s in London. That work, which may have been left half-intact by a malfunctioning shredder concealed in its frame, was subsequently deemed a new work and retitled Love is in the Bin (2018).