Girl with Balloon in Arcueil

Everyone knows “Girl with Balloon”, the archetypal Banksy stencil mural.

Girl with Balloon
The famous Banksy stencil mural now in a new version at number 18…

Girl with Balloon or Love is where the bins are

This version of “Girl with Balloon” is not set for self-destruction and cannot be shredded. When the household in Arcueil, a wee suburban town not far from where we live, is taking out the bins it can however be renamed “Love is near the bins”.

Banksy should not be able to sue the authors of this meme for I doubt that the artist himself — or herself for no one knows who Banksy really is even though he is described as a Bristol-based 28 year-old while male but there is no obligation to believe this — has come to this little suburban place in the South of Paris.

Girl with Balloon
Girl with Ballon stencil. All sizes available from Amazon and delivered to your door (not just if you live at number 18)

It’ s a bit ironic that an artist who is supposedly taking the Mickey out of people who spend millions on works of art should be at the centre of a thriving business. He (or She) isn’t making money from this though, at least one believes so, but somebody surely is.

Oh yes! Please shred my £1,042,000 “Girl with Ballon” picture

Buy Banksy Art at … undisclosed price, please call us –

Here are a few random thoughts about Banksy and art

As I stated, no one really knows who Banksy really is. He is said to be:

[a] political activist, and film director whose real name and identity remain unconfirmed and the subject of speculation.[2] Active since the 1990s […]

Banksy is also depicted as a political activist with a sense of “underclass “revenge”

Banksy’s work has also shown a desire to mock centralised power, hoping that their work will show the public that although power does exist and works against you, that power is not terribly efficient and it can and should be deceived.[53]

Similarly, “his” [I will use the masculine pronoun from now on for the sake of simplification] work is deemed to be mocking the art market and its buyers. The Sotheby’s 2018 shredding incident was even punctuated by a “We’ve been Banksy-ed” statement even though there has been rumours of connivance between the artist and the auctioneer.

In October 2019, Banksy posted the following statement on his Instagram page.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Banksy (@banksy)

It’s a bit ironic that — while mocking the art market — Banksy is in fact adding fuel to it. As it happens, Banksy’s works are both common property, to use Hughes’s expression, as shown on Amazon and in Arcueil, and the object of speculation, even when shredded. As it were, it’s even more expensive when shredded.

In the current case, the buyer of the “Girl with Balloon” decided to keep the painting in its shredded state and go ahead with her purchase. Experts at Sotherby’s chose to look at Banky’s act of destruction as one of creation instead. Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art, Europe, said: “Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one.” Banksy has given the “transformed” artwork the new title, “Love Is in the Bin.”

One may ponder over the alliteration between Branczik (Brand Chic?) and Banksy. Just a thought.

Here is what Artbroker have to say in a podcast (as art is common property according to Banksy, I suspect that what is produced by those doing business with works of art which are common property is common property too, hence my borrowing this podcast).

There are only 88 artists prints in each colour, and therefore they are considered extremely rare. When Banksy first released these prints, the unsigned editions were sold for under £100, while the signed editions were sold for 150 pounds. Now they can sell for six figure sums. Each screen prints with the Red Balloon are usually the most popular with collectors because they are so iconic. But the artist proofs with purple and gold balloons, the most expensive prints because they’re the rarest. These artists proofs can fetch nearly a million pounds at auction. […] A gold balloon can sell for even more in the auction world.

All this has triggered thoughts about art, value, and humans in general. What we value isn’t truth or beauty. What makes value is rareness as stated in the podcast by Artbroker. They call themselves brokers by the way, this is a pure market, a Wallstreet of art. A pompous and ridiculous mockery of business. At least in business, real people produce real things that we exchange for money. This is not remarkable in itself but it’s real life. Here is a game where artists are using the system and benefiting from it as well as mocking it at the same time. Biting the hand that feeds them in a sense.

Well, no one knows who Banksy is but I do. His name is Randall.

Yann Gourvennec
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