Banksy - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 18, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “You paint 100 chimpanzees and they still call you a guerrilla artist”

    Before the nightclub’s closure in 2010, the walls of the now-defunct Ocean Rooms in Brighton were once adorned with ten forlorn monkeys, each wearing an equal-sized sandwich board. Some boards were blank, while others assertively declared: "Laugh now but one day we’ll be in charge." Originally commissioned for the nightclub’s interior in 2002, the six-metre-long, frieze-like mural Laugh Now was spray painted by Banksy using his signature stencil technique. In the following year, the Bristol-born artist produced an edition of 750 prints inspired by this image, to which the present lot belongs.


    Consisting of a single, slumped-shouldered monkey in a fully frontal pose, the deceptively simple image is nevertheless deeply ambiguous. Despite his current oppression, the seemingly dejected monkey clenches his fingers tightly with defiant spirit, as the dramatic dripping paint effect at the bottom of the picture plane further hints at the imminence of revolt.


    Within the prominent theme of anthropomorphised animals, Banksy has exhibited a particular preference for monkeys, partly because of the allegorical potential arising from their evolutionary proximity with humans. In this case, the monkey figure serves as a metaphor for the oppressed and the disenfranchised, allowing Banksy to champion the anti-establishment stance for which he is best known.

    “Should graffiti be judged on the same level as modern art? Of course not: It’s way more important than that” 

    At the same time, Banksy’s own identification with the monkey figure adds an additional layer of complexity to the symbolic significance of the titular slogan: the street artist has repeatedly disguised himself with a monkey mask, first in the photography series Monkey Mask Session (2003), and later in the documentary film he directed titled Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010). Laugh Now offers a powerful comment on the status of graffiti – the art form that has historically suffered from an unsavory reputation in the hierarchical art world but has increasingly received recognition in recent years.

    • Provenance

      Tate Modern, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 2003

    • 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


Laugh Now

Screenprint in colours, on buff wove paper, the full sheet.
S. 69.5 x 49.6 cm (27 3/8 x 19 1/2 in.)
Numbered 325/600 in pencil (there was also a signed edition of 150 and 69 artist's proofs), published by Pictures on Walls, London, with the accompanying Certificate of Authenticity issued by Pest Control, framed.

Full Cataloguing

£25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for £75,600

Contact Specialist

Rebecca Tooby-Desmond
Specialist, Head of Sale, Editions
T +44 207 318 4079
M +44 7502 417366

Robert Kennan
Head of Editions, Europe
T +44 207 318 4075
M +44 7824 994 784

Anne Schneider-Wilson
Senior International Specialist, Editions
T +44 207 318 4042
M +44 7760 864 748   


Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 18 - 19 January 2023