Banksy - New Now London Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | Phillips

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  • 'As soon as I cut my first stencil I could feel the power there. I also like the political edge. All graffiti is low-level dissent, but stencils have an extra history. They’ve been used to start revolutions and to stop wars.'

    Love Is In The Air is one of Banksy’s most identifiable and famed motifs. The present work is characteristic of Banksy’s use of dark and humorous imagery. He is intentional about the juxtaposition of opposite symbols and clichés which draws inspiration from socio-political contexts.


    Banksy created the original ‘Love is in the Air’ stencil following his first solo exhibition at Gallery 33 1/3 in Los Angeles, 2002. The image first appeared as graffiti on Jerusalem’s West Bank Wall, that separates Israel from Palestine. The image was later reproduced as a print with the red background, circa 2003. That same year, it could also have been spotted spray painted on a wall off London’s Rivington Street. Subsequently, Banksy has creating several versions of the work, constantly reworking the stencil throughout his career. 


    Love Is In The Air epitomises Banksy’s most prominent motifs and themes, reminiscent of the images from the street and campus riots of the 1960s. The image of a young man with his face partially covered by a bandana and a ball cap, leans backwards in momentum to detonate what is ironically seen as a bouquet of flowers. The furrowed brows and menacing posture suggest a violent intent, yet the flowers add a humorous quality to the composition. The deep red, a colour of both hatred and passion, further emphasises the contrast between the forceful posture and the launch of what is the epitome of peace and love. This recognisable image now serves as a symbol of peaceful protest, becoming an excellent example of how the anonymous artist uses art to convey messages of social significance, as he himself has remarked, ‘If you want to say something and have people listen then you have to wear a mask.’i   


    Though initially Banksy gained his notoriety through a range of illicit interventions, such as modifying street signs and hanging his own works in institutions, by bringing street art into the gallery space he has established its status in the art world. He elevated something that was previously viewed as vandalism and is now a call for peace delivered with a force no less powerful than a grenade.


    i Nidhi Gupta, ‘Fact & Fiction: Banksy Finally Speaks out, Sunday Guardian¸ 29 March 2014, online

    • Provenance

      Simon Finch, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Artist Biography


      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.

      View More Works


Love is in the air

signed, stamped with the artist's name and numbered '©banksy BANKSY 32/500' lower right
screenprint on paper
50.1 x 69.9 cm (19 3/4 x 27 1/2 in.)
Executed in 2003, this work is number 32 from an edition of 500 of which only the first 50 are signed and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Pest Control.

Full Cataloguing

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £214,200

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey
Head of New Now Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 13 July 2021