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  • Immediately recognizable and instantly touching, Girl with Balloon is one of Banksy’s best-known images. It depicts a young child who reaches out to a red heart-shaped balloon that is just out of her reach, as her hair and dress are blown by a strong gust of wind. It is ambiguous as to whether she has intentionally released the balloon, evoking an endearing image of childhood freedom, or if she has accidentally lost her grip on the dangling string and is watching in despair as the balloon slips into oblivion. Either way, when the work was graffitied on London’s Waterloo Bridge (later removed by the council), Banksy paired it with the phrase ‘There is always hope’. Because of this the work has come to represent both childhood innocence and the importance of maintaining hope, even in the darkest of times.


    Girl with Balloon is one of Banksy’s many works that focus on the theme of childhood. The artist utilizes the innocence and moral virtue associated with children to turn a mirror on society, foregrounding its faults and injustices. Banksy frequently combines images of childhood, and its closely connected notions of both purity and nostalgia, with somber and despondent themes of war, political division, and mass-surveillance. In doing so, the tenderness of the child’s image evokes an increasingly powerful and provocative message. Viewers of Girl with Balloon cannot help but feel empathy for the young child’s loss. But, at the same time, her out-reached hand embodies a determined and admirable longing for something better. For this reason, the image has become a universal symbol of optimism.


    Voted in 2017 as the United Kingdom’s favorite artwork, the image has unwavering appeal. Despite the physical graffiti versions being removed by the authorities, the iconic artwork lives on in many different iterations. Banksy has reimagined the work multiple times in recent years to align it with various political statements. This includes in 2014 to raise awareness of the war in Syria and in 2017 to encourage anti-Conservative voting in the UK election.

    • Condition Report

    • Artist Biography

      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.

      View More Works

41

Girl with Balloon

2004
Screenprint in colours, on wove paper, with full margins.
I. 38.5 x 25 cm (15 1/8 x 9 7/8 in.)
S. 70.1 x 50 cm (27 1/2 x 19 5/8 in.)

Numbered 401/600 in pencil, an unsigned impression (there was also a signed edition of 150), published by Pictures on Walls, London (with their blindstamp), with the accompanying Certificate of Authenticity issued by Pest Control, framed.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£100,000 - 120,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £163,800

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Robert Kennan
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Anne Schneider-Wilson
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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 19-20 January 2022