Happy Shopper

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  • Provenance

    Pest Control, London

  • Exhibited

    Bristol, Bristol Museum, Banksy Versus Bristol Museum, 13 June - 31 August 2009

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” BANKSY

    One of the most prominent yet also elusive figures in British art, Banksy has drawn as much praise as he has criticism. While many consider him to be a figure that has successfully brought into question what we as a society appreciate as art, others view him as little more than an aggrandized vandal. Indeed during the artist’s well-covered residency in New York, much of his art was in fact destroyed by federal authorities.

    Having initially won acclaim in the early 2000s for his graffiti work, Banksy has since gone on to deploy a wide variety of media, ranging from animatronics to live performers. In his playful and direct style, the artist addresses perceived woes in society, making for gripping and provoking pieces.

    He is a master of the surprising juxtaposition and this is perfectly encapsulated by Happy Shopper, a piece which featured in the acclaimed 2009 show ‘Banksy versus Bristol Museum’, where it held pride of place in the main entrance hall. "Some of the fake historical relics I’ve inserted among Bristol’s permanent collection should be entertaining — you can’t tell what’s truth and what’s fiction. It’ll be like walking through a real-life Wikipedia".

    Taking a classical statue from the museum as his model, Banksy mischievously adapts the figure, festooning the statue’s arms with shopping bags and placing a pair of over-sized sunglasses on the face. The effect is both startling and highly amusing. Were it not for her antique drapery, one would be forgiven for seeing this statue as a present day character - a Paris Hilton or Victoria Beckham of sorts.

    Despite its playful nature, the work carries an undeniable cynical edge. The mass of bags the figure is carrying points to an unquenchable desire for material goods, the stoic features of the sculpture meanwhile suggesting a glazed dissatisfaction. Clearly Banks is making a direct dig at consumerist culture through this piece. ‘Banksy versus Bristol Museum’ was not the first time that Banksy infiltrated his art into public collections (in 2003 the artist infamously smuggled his work into the Tate Britain where it went unnoticed for hours) however, the Bristol exhibition and the pieces the artist produced for it, may be understood as holding particular personal significance to the artist since Bristol is thought to be his home town.

    With its focus on contemporary culture and mass consumerism, Banksy’s work holds a place besides the art of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Like these artists he has achieved icon status. Rebellious and contentious though he may be, Banksy is undoubtedly an artist that has shaped the face of contemporary art.

  • Artist Bio


    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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Happy Shopper

birch faced ply, cast jesmonite
238.5 x 116 x 74 cm. (93 7/8 x 45 5/8 x 29 1/8 in.)
Signed 'BANKSY' on the reverse. This work is unique and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Pest Control.

£200,000 - 300,000 ‡ ♠

sold for £506,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening

London Evening Sale 10 February 2014 7pm