Street Artist Banksy’s “Devolved Parliament” Sells for Over $12 Million

  • Banksy’s controversial artwork sells for over $12 million
  • “Devolved Parliament” depicts Britain’s parliament as primates, a perfect example of how “Life Imitates Art”
  • The sale comes a year after another Banksy piece was sold and shredded in front of shocked buyers

Street artist Banksy’s large scale depiction of primates sitting in Britain’s parliament sold for more than $12 million on Thursday. According to Sotheby, one of the world’s largest brokers of fine and decorative art, the piece sold at a record price for a work by the secretive British street artist.

“Developed Parliamentary” is a Banksy painting in which chimpanzees replace politicians in the House of Commons It more than comfortably surpassed its estimated price tag of 1.5 million to 2 million pounds. During the live stream of the sale, the auctioneer even declared the moment as “history being made.’

Reuters reported that after bidding that lasted some 13 minutes, the 2009 artwork from a private collection sold to loud applause for a hammer price of 8.5 million pounds, to which fees are added giving a final price of 9,879,500 pounds ($12.2 million).

“Record price for a Banksy painting set at the auction tonight. Shame I didn’t still own it,” Banksy wrote on his Instagram feed beside a post quoting art critic Robert Hughes about the value of artworks.

“… The price of a work of art is now part of its function, its new job is to sit on the wall and get more expensive. Instead of being the common property of humankind the way a book is, art becomes the particular property of someone who can afford it.”

Image result for robert hughes art critic banksy
via Banksy’s Instagram Account

“Devolved Parliament” measures 13 feet (4 m) long, making it Banksy’s largest known canvas, according to Sotheby’s.

The piece’s sale is a year after another Banksy canvas, “Girl with Balloon,” was sold. But before it got to the hands of the buyer, it shredded itself in front of shocked onlookers at Sotheby’s auction. 

When the auction was first announced, Banksy shared his inspiration for the piece on his Instagram account. “I made this ten years ago. Bristol museum has just put it back on display to mark Brexit day. Laugh now, but one day no-one will be in charge”.

LIFE IMITATES ART

“Devolved Parliament” was first constructed in 2009, yet many commentators and critics had drawn star comparisons to the current climate of British parliament, specifically the almost barbaric exchanges in the House of Commons over Britain’s pending departure from the European Union, more commonly known as Brexit.

The sale comes on the heels of the controversial five-week suspension of Britain’s parliament by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was deem unlawful by the supreme court. Time is ticking for the government, with Britain leaving the European Union on Oct. 31. 

Image result for british parliament
via The New York Times

As the New Delhi Television reports, when the parliament reconvened on Sept. 25 after their squashed suspension attempt, members of the parliament spent their time angrily arguing over the supposed suspension; afterward they argued whether their language in doing so was too strong.

“There’s no doubt that today this image has incredible currency not just here in the UK but across Europe and beyond,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art, Europe. “Here we see this, one of our oldest democracies and within it, we see the regression toward tribal animalistic behavior.”

“What he’s pointing to here is the regression of the oldest parliamentary democracy in the world into tribalistic animalistic behaviour, the sort that we’ve seen broadcasted on our televisions,” said Branczik.

“The real genius of Banksy is his ability to reduce this incredibly complex debate into one single simple image, which importantly is very readily shared in this age of social media and a very image-consuming population.”

A gallery assistant gets a closer look at Banksy’s painting “Devolved Parliament.” (Tristan Fewings/Getty)

The Bristol-born street artist is notorious for keeping his identity a secret. He rose to fame with his unorthodox art depicting political or social-commentary graffiti work that randomly pops up in cities around the world. -Reuter/NDTV


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