Many people believe that this piece stems from the Bristol riots back in the early 1980’s, but according to Jim Paine in the book “Home Sweet Home” that isn’t true at all. In the late 90’s in Bristol there were many free, unlicensed parties at various warehouses across the city. There was trouble at one such party at Winterstoke Road, where according to Jim “Many of the crowd that night were assaulted by police…it marked the beginning of a more hardline approach from the police, using violence as a method of breaking up parties“. The “Mild Mild West” was painted by Banksy on the side of a building in Stokes Croft, Bristol and was done over the course of 3 days in broad daylight. It remains there to this day. Mild Mild West location.
Choosing a tag or graffiti name was common in this subculture to brand work and to avoid arrest. This is the name that he has stuck with since. The Bristol street artists adopted graffiti-style pseudonyms and painted in collaborative groups or ‘crews’. His earliest influence was musician and graffiti writer 3D, one of the pioneers who brought free-hand, spraycan-style graffiti writing to the UK from the New York subways.
An eye-catching stencil by Banksy depicting a girl being grabbed by the robotic arm of a cash machine, this piece of work has been revisited by Banksy and is reported to have first appeared in its current state in May 2007 close to Exmouth Market in North London. The message appears to be anti-capitalist, with Banksy perhaps taking a swipe at high street banks luring customers in. Cash Machine Girl location.
Banksy displays his art on publicly visible surfaces such as walls and self-built physical prop pieces. Banksy no longer sells photographs or reproductions of his street graffiti, but his public 'installations' are regularly resold, often even by removing the wall they were painted on. A small number of Banksy's works are officially, non-publicly, sold through Pest Control. Banksy's documentary film Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for the film. In 2014, he was awarded Person of the Year at the 2014 Webby Awards.
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The woman who won the bidding at the auction decided to go through with the purchase. The partially shredded work has been given a new title, Love is in the Bin, and it was authenticated by Banksy's authentication body Pest Control. Sotheby released a statement that said "Banksy didn't destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one," and called it "the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction."
When we renovated the Thekla in the dry dock in 2014, we removed the Grim Reaper to preserve and restore the artwork, and came up with the idea of using the original space for other Bristol street artists. Inkie came to mind immediately due to his connections with Banksy and he was happy to come and paint on the boat while it was still out of the water. The Grim Reaper is now free to view in the M-Shed museum.
The piece can be read in many ways. In one respect, Banksy is advocating for a sexual-identity accepting society by placing icons of authority in a pro-gay position. His use of policemen, rather than ordinary citizens, is intriguing, because the very subjects of his tender portrayal are often the ones to working to eradicate his vandalism. While some believe that he is poking fun at policemen, showing them in a vulnerable, intimate moment, others read the work more positively, as showing a human side to the police force, and emphasizing the strong bonds that exist on the police force between partners and teammates. The work is an undeniable testament to Banksy's use of irony to challenge us to build a bridge of understanding between expected enemies of ideology.
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In October 2018, one of Banksy's works, Balloon Girl, was sold in an auction at Sotheby's in London for £1.04m. However, shortly after the gavel dropped and it was sold, an alarm sounded inside of the picture frame and the canvas passed through a shredder hidden within the frame, partially shredding the picture. Banksy then posted an image of the shredding on Instagram captioned "Going, going, gone...". After the sale, the auction house acknowledged that the self-destruction of the work was a prank by the artist. The prank received wide news coverage around the world, with one newspaper stating that it was "quite possibly the biggest prank in art history." Joey Syer, co-founder of an online platform facilitating art dealer sales, told the Evening Standard: "The auction result will only propel this further and given the media attention this stunt has received, the lucky buyer would see a great return on the £1.02M they paid last night, this is now part of art history in its shredded state and we'd estimate Banksy has added at a minimum 50% to its value, possibly as high as being worth £2m+." A man seen filming the shredding of the picture during its auction has been suggested to be Banksy. Banksy has since released a video on how the shredder was installed into the frame and the shredding of the picture, explaining that he had surreptitiously fitted the painting with the shredder a few years previously, in case it ever went up for auction. To explain his rationale for destroying his own artwork, Banksy quoted Picasso: "The urge to destroy is also a creative urge". (Although Banksy cited Picasso, this quote is usually attributed to Mikhail Bakunin.)  It is not known how the shredder was activated. Banksy has released another video indicating that the painting was intended to be shredded completely. The video shows a sample painting completely shredded by the frame and says: "In rehearsals it worked every time...".
Flower Aerial Girl, in Los Angeles, features a young girl in silouhette tending a television aerial in the same manner as one would a pot of flowers. The aerial appears to have grown and has sprouted leaves suggesting that the more kids pay attention to TV, the more influence it cultivates. The piece remained relatively untouched on a gas station in Valero until the owner cut it out of the wall and auctioned it for a healthy sum.