Forming part of an edition of 8 works, each version is nonetheless rendered unique by the artist’s spray painting of the young girl’s figure to the front of the work – a feat that distinguishes it from Banksy’s other editions of Girl with Balloon and Morons.
First developed in 2002 and 2006 respectively, Girl with Balloon and Morons have, as independent images, become laden with meaning. The former, initially devised as a stencil mural, was exhibited in such public and political spaces as Waterloo Bridge and the West Bank barrier. Its portrayal of a young girl reaching for – or releasing – a drifting balloon spurred a number of interpretations relating to one’s inevitable loss of childhood and innocence. Recognized as one of the artist’s foremost symbols for more than a decade, and voted the nation’s favorite artwork in 2017, the image once again came to the forefront of the public’s attention in 2018, when a 2006 framed copy of the artwork came to auction and sold for a record price. Adding further momentum to the event, the work began self-destructing just a few moments after the closing bid, by means of a concealed mechanical paper shredder Banksy had built into the frame bottom. Marking auction history with an unprecedented performative quality, Girl with Balloon became an icon for the unpredictable developments of contemporary markets, whilst simultaneously entering the realm of popular culture.