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Banksy (b. 1974)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Banksy (b. 1974)

Mona Lisa

Details
Banksy (b. 1974)
Mona Lisa
stencilled with the artist's name 'BANKSY' (lower left)
spraypaint stencil on board
48 x 48in. (122 x 122cm.)
Executed in 2000, this work is unique
Provenance
Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist).
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 28 February 2008, lot 325.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.
Post Lot Text
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Pest Control Office.

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Head of Evening Auction

Lot Essay

Bold and irreverent, Mona Lisa is a large-scale rendition of one of Banksy’s most iconic subjects. The protagonist of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece is wrestled from her original context, blasted in monochrome spray paint and endowed with a rocket launcher. Painted in 2000, the work dates from a pivotal moment in the career of Britain’s best-known – and most elusive – street artist. Coming to prominence as a teenager in Bristol in the early 1990s, Banksy began to achieve critical acclaim at the turn of the millennium, relocating to London whilst keeping his identity a closely-guarded secret. His early freehand graffiti gave way to his signature use of stencils, allowing him to work at greater speed. Banksy claims that this change in approach was inspired by viewing a stencilled serial number on the underside of a rubbish lorry, where he once took refuge from the police. Recalling famous appropriations of the Mona Lisa by Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol, the present work takes its place within Banksy’s satirical, subversive and darkly humorous pantheon of imagery. At the same time, its subject retains some of the original painting’s enigmatic qualities: she is both attacker and target, her smile betraying nothing. Banksy would return to the Mona Lisa throughout his practice, painting her in a variety of profane guises. In 2004, as part of a stunt, he hung one of his own versions of the painting in the Louvre – home to the original work – replacing the subject’s face with a yellow smiley emoticon.

Despite the apparent lawlessness of his practice, Banksy preaches a utopian view of street art. ‘Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked’, he has written. ‘Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big businesses. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet’ (Banksy, quoted in P. Gough, Banksy: The Bristol Legacy, Bristol 2010, p. 9). During his early days as a member of the graffiti trio DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), Banksy drew inspiration from local artists on the Bristol underground circuit, including Inkie, Nick Walker and 3D. By the time of the present work, his images had migrated from the city’s trains, walls and bridges to locations throughout the UK: a ubiquity made all the more intriguing by his anonymity. Over the years his works would come to adorn locations ranging from the Israel West Bank barrier to Disneyland California, to museum sites and other public spaces across the world. His desire to confront social and political issues through street art informs his work as a film director, activist and prankster, often using comedy to shed light on painful truths. ‘Whatever line there is distinguishing art and language’, writes fellow street artist Shepard Fairey, ‘BANKSY paints over it to make it disappear, then stealthily repaints it in the unlikeliest of places’ (S. Fairey, ‘Banksy: The Naked Truth', Swiddle Magazine, Issue 8, 2005).

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