Rembrandt

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Australia

  • Exhibited

    Bristol, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Banksy v Bristol Museum, 13 June - 31 August 2009

  • Catalogue Essay

    “If you want to survive as a graffiti writer when you go indoors your only option is to carry on painting over things that don’t belong to you.” BANKSY FROM WALL AND PIECE

    Admired all over the world for his politically charged, subversive and humorous art, the pseudonymous Banksy has become one of the most famous artists of our time, in spite of no one knowing his true identity. Predominantly a street artist, Banksy initially used this platform to challenge authority and question society whilst reaching out to a wide audience of devoted fans. His works are as witty as they are pensive; each piece is an opportunity to encourage the viewer to think and reevaluate modern culture. As a result of his popularity, Banksy is now a renowned and recognized artist and playfully pokes fun at the art world from within with his pieces and shows. Whether it’s a wall of a London building or a famous painting, the elusive artist modifies the world around him, instills his important messages in his works and, as a result, achieves beautification with vandalism.

    The present lot shows Banksy’s lighthearted attitude as he attaches googly eyes to one of the most famous paintings in art history. Banksy recreates Rembrandt’s well known Self Portrait at the Age of 63 (1669) and covers the expressive eyes, perhaps what Rembrandt’s portraits are best known for, with googly eyes. This simple act undermines the painting itself and encourages the viewer to question the nature of art, creating a piece that is not only witty but visually very amusing. Poignantly, in this case Banksy has altered a work in a similar fashion to his grafti on London’s buildings. However, this practical joke is not without forethought. His appropriation of Rembrandt’s nationally beloved self portrait invites the viewer to question why this act seems so audacious, why this painting is valued so highly and, foremost, what constitutes great art. As a street artist, Banksy is no stranger to graffiti being deemed ‘low art’ or even ‘vandalism’. Consequently, he aims to subvert what we consider ‘high art’ by taking a famous painting, catching the viewer’s interest with attention grabbing googly eyes and creating a piece that is entertaining, thought provoking and progressive.

    Banksy’s work is brave, confrontational and unapologetic; he ignores the conventions of art and dares to make his own rules. The present lot is characteristic of his style and illustrates the artist’s masterful use of humour as a means of arousing further contemplation. Additionally, the work harks back to previous appropriations of masterpieces, such as Marcel Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. which also mischievously used comedy to remark on the art world from within it. The elusive Banksy’s work is assertive and challenging whilst simultaneously playful and unabashed, always carrying his moralistic message. As he says, “I like to think I have the guts to stand up anonymously in a western democracy and call for things no-one else believes in - like peace and justice and freedom.”

  • Artist Bio

    Banksy

    British • 1975 - N/A

    Anonymous street artist Banksy first turned to graffiti as a miserable fourteen year old disillusioned with school. Inspired by the thriving graffiti community in his home city, Bristol, Banksy's works began appearing on trains and walls in 1993, and by 2001 his blocky, spray-painted works had cropped up all over the United Kingdom. Typically crafting his images with spray paint and cardboard stencils, Banksy is able to achieve a meticulous level of detail. His aesthetic is clean and instantly readable due to his knack for reducing complex political and social statements to simple visual elements.



    His graffiti, paintings and screenprints use whimsy and humour to satirically critique war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed — with not even the Royal family safe from his anti-establishment wit.

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26

Banksy

Rembrandt

2009
googly eyes, acrylic on canvas
102.3 x 77 x 9.3 cm. (40 1/4 x 30 3/8 x 3 5/8 in.)
Signed 'BANKSY' lower right. Further signed 'BANKSY 09' on the reverse. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Pest Control.

Estimate
£150,000 - 250,000 

sold for £398,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
psumner@phillips.com
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening

London Evening Sale 10 February 2014 7pm