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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE PROMINENT COLLECTION

Girl with Balloon (Diptych)

Girl with Balloon (Diptych)
(i) numbered ‘6/25' (on the stretcher)
(ii) tagged ‘BANKSY' (on the overlap); signed and dated 'BANKSY 5⁄9/05‘ (on the stretcher)
spray paint on canvas, in two parts
each: 11 7⁄8 x 11 7⁄8in. (30.2 x 30.2cm.)
Executed in 2005, this work is number six from an edition of twenty-five
Private Collection, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in circa 2013.
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. Where Christie’s has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie’s therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party. In such cases the third party agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. The third party is therefore committed to bidding on the lot and, even if there are no other bids, buying the lot at the level of the written bid unless there are any higher bids. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. On occasion, Christie’s has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. Where Christie’s holds such financial interest we identify such lots with the symbol º next to the lot number.
Further details
This work is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity issued by Pest Control.
Sale room notice
Please note that this lot which was not marked with a circle and diamond symbol in the printed catalogue is now subject to a minimum price guarantee and has been financed by a third party. Please see the conditions of sale for further information.

Please note the estimates for this lot have changed and are now £2,600,000 - £3,500,000

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Interim Acting Head of Department

Lot Essay

A poignant two-part version of Banksy’s most iconic image, Girl with Balloon (Diptych) is a vision of innocence and hope. The work consists of two square canvases, each on an intimate 30 x 30 cm scale. In one stands a small girl, stencilled in black against the white background, with her hand upraised; in the other, a red, heart-shaped balloon drifts away into the sky. Created in 2005—just one year after the Girl with Balloon motif made its famed public appearance on a wall on London’s South Bank—the diptych highlights the simple pathos of Banksy’s composition. The balloon has escaped from one panel into another: the distance between the two is palpable. Is the girl reaching for something that she has lost, or has she released a message of love into the world? As with all of Banksy’s work, the image’s universal resonance is not without ambiguity, and its ultimate meaning lies with the viewer. In 2017, Girl with Balloon was voted Britain’s favourite artwork of all time. Its extraordinary, pervasive power is testament to Banksy’s conviction that art should circulate freely in our daily lives, up for discussion by all, and unbound from the conventions of frames, galleries and museums.

Banksy has taken the world as his canvas since the 1990s, using graffiti as a powerful form of social commentary and critique. Beginning in his native Bristol, the anonymous artist moved to London towards the turn of the millennium, where his signature stencilled images became a distinctive part of the urban landscape. Over the years, his projects have taken him across the globe: from Gaza to Glastonbury, and from Los Angeles to the Louvre. Appearing by stealth in unexpected places, his works have addressed a host of social, cultural and political issues, most recently confronting topics such as Brexit, climate change, migration and the COVID-19 pandemic. Fuelling Banksy’s practice is a belief that art should belong to the people, and that—in reflecting their concerns—it has the power to change the world for the better. Girl with Balloon has held a constant role in this mission for almost twenty years.

The original mural of Girl with Balloon appeared outside a Shoreditch printing shop in 2002; two years later, another version sprang up on London’s South Bank, this time accompanied by a message reading ‘There Is Always Hope.’ Much like Banksy’s Game Changer (2020)—also depicting a small child—the image’s purpose and power lay in its universality. It was not a static object confined to a gallery, but rather an ephemeral, constantly-evolving performance that lived among the people, and spoke to them in different ways. In 2005, Banksy produced another variant of the motif on the West Bank barrier wall, this time with a bunch of balloons lifting the girl into the sky. In 2014, a version featuring a child with a headscarf was projected onto Nelson’s Column and other global landmarks in support of crisis victims in Syria. Across all these contexts, Girl with Balloon has proved an enduring icon of transcendent, multivalent meaning.

Banksy first hit upon his trademark stencilling method as a teenager: he studied the lettering on a lorry while hiding from the Bristol police, and realised the stencil could let him lay down images swiftly and discreetly. This quickfire wit would go on to inform many of his most famous works, from the monumental Love Is In The Air (Flower Thrower), first seen on a wall in Jerusalem in 2003, to irreverent murals such as Kissing Coppers, which appeared in Brighton two years later. More recent public interventions—such as Nottingham’s girl hula-hooping with a bicycle wheel, and the sneezing woman who brightened up pandemic-struck Bristol in 2020—demonstrate his continued commitment to the medium, bringing joy to local neighbourhoods with their humorous, carefully staged tableaux. All these years later, however, Girl with Balloon remains perhaps the purest expression of Banksy’s visual genius. Instantly recognisable and timelessly moving, the present work encapsulates the spirit of his art: with just two beautifully simple elements, he has created a picture that has touched the hearts of millions.

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