Graffiti, Consumerism, and Capitalism


“We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles.
In the meantime, we should all go shopping to console ourselves.”



Banksy’s critique of capitalism and consumerism is a key theme he explores and revisits throughout his career. Many of his editioned prints, in fact, relate to this: Trolleys, Barcode, Sale Ends, Christ with Shopping Bags, to name just a few are frequently used in various media as symbols of consumerism leading to the excesses of our Western societies.
In Trolleys, Banksy illustrates the inability of the modern human to provide for their own needs unless they can purchase it from from a store. We are so heavily reliant upon “big business” that we have lost our way a bit in the sense that we are no longer self sufficient. It was not that long ago that we lived in a simpler time – a time where people grew and raised what they ate.
In Napalm, the artist appropriates Nick Ut’s harrowing photograph of a child fleeing a napalm blast in Vietnam to make a comment on large-scale corporations and their relationship with war, but also to warn on the disastrously impact of capitalistic imperialism.

The Joy of Not Being Sold Anything


Banksy’s critique of consumerist desire even motivated the artist to create his own currency in Di-Faced Tenners, where Queen Elizabeth has been replaced by a portrait of Princess Diana and the accompanying inscription: “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the ultimate price.” Sale Ends and Very Little Helps also comment on the pervasive allure of capitalist entities, as the figures depicted appear to worship and pledge allegiance to a ‘Sale Ends Today’ sign and Tesco shopping bag respectively.

Graffiti, Capitalism, and Consumerism

1. Trolleys
2. Sale Ends
3. Barcode
4. Morons
5. Tesco
6. Lifestyle
7. Shopping Bags
8. Napalm
9 . Ronald McDonald
10. Cash



1. Trolleys


Trolleys offers a provoking satire about the impact of consumerism on the ability of modern men to provide for themselves. Trolleys, also known as Trolley Hunters, depicts three cavemen bearing primitive weapons and crouched in the act of hunting. However, instead of cavemen’s target being the archetypal buffalo or mammoth, it is a shopping trolley.
Through this artwork, Banksy mocks contemporary society by suggesting that, isolated in cities, with no way of growing or catching our own food, we depend on the products offered by giant supermarkets to survive.


Trolleys (White), 2006
Screen-print in colors on wove paper
Edition: 150 signed, 500 unsigned

Trolleys also illustrates the hunters’ lack of common sense, as, instead of searching for edible goods, they have targeted the vessel in which one puts the goods in to. The men holding weapons also recall people competing violently for food in the archetypal scene at the supermarket in any Hollywood film about the apocalypse, itself a bleak evocation of what happens when the capitalist law of supply and demand goes too far. Or more realistically, the scenes of people rushing through the doors of major retail stores on Black Friday.
 Trolleys (Color), 2007
Screen-print in colors on wove paper
Edition: 750 signed
Banksy is clearly criticizing our “Western” societies, for their reliance on mass market commercialism to feed themselves and their families. The scene depicted on the print is a humorous take on such a prescient social critique, showing a group of “hunters” preparing to spear down some shopping carts.
Banksy used the trolley at various occasions, including in the iconic mural Shop Till You Drop he realized in London in 2011.


Shop Till Your Drop (detail), London, 2011

Trolleys are also featured prominently in Show me the Monet, perhaps the most well-known Banksy’s painting from his Crude Oils series. This rare, entirely hand-painted canvas helped cement Banksy’s position as one of the most controversial and decisive social commentators for our time. It sold at Sotheby’s London on 21 October 2020 for GBP 7,551,600 / USD 9,968,112.

Show Me The Monet, 2005
Oil on canvas in artist’s frame
143.1×143.4cm (56 3/8 x 56 1/2 inches)
Crude Oils, London, October 2005
Banksy repurposes an iconic image in the western canon: Claude Monet’s career-defining view of the Japanese footbridge in his water garden at Giverny. With its tongue-in-cheek pun of a title, Banksy’s painstakingly observed re-painting delivers a complex dialogue that tackles prescient issues of our time, such as the environment and the capitalist landscape of our contemporary moment, not to mention the art establishment and its ongoing identity crisis. With a sumptuously rendered orange traffic cone and a thickly textured shopping trolley disrupting the romance of Monet’s iconic Impressionist masterpiece, Banksy’s version is more twenty-first century fly-tipping spot than timeless idyll. Delivered with the ironic dead-pan immediacy of a punchline, the underlying conceptual complexity at stake here belies its humor.
Monets beautiful paintings of Giverny are today considered a benchmark of established taste and crown jewels from a historical art perspective. Yet, at the time Monet was building his reputation during the 1860s and into the 1870s, he was considered a radical. By recording everything he saw and conspicuously refusing to omit ‘ugly’ scenic disturbances in his painting, his works sought to reflect the changing landscape of Modern France as the industrial revolution made its impact on the traditional landscape genre. This was controversial and seen as an affront to contemporary taste, a departure from the past, and this revolutionary perspective is amplified through Banksy’s reworking more than a century later. Echoing the way in which Monet translated the French landscape, complete with evidence of the encroaching industrial revolution, Show me the Monet presents a dialogue on the impact of the corporate world on our environment and the sacrifices made at the expense of so-called ‘human progress’.
As an artwork, Monet’s waterlilies exist at the very apogee of artistic achievement across the last 100 years. In choosing perhaps the most iconic of these paintings, Banksy takes on the height of human civilization in a single image. Universally known and appreciated, its ironic manipulation to include half-submerged shopping trolleys and a traffic cone presents an affront both to an icon of art history while also building on Monet’s radical legacy as a painter of Modernity. Following this thread, however, Banksy explicitly passes comment on our age’s hyper-capitalism and waste. Using a heavy dose of irony and humor, Banksy’s work reveals a great deal about his thoughts and feelings on where we are as a society today.


2. Sale Ends


Sale Ends portrays a group of cloaked women starkly outlined in Banksy’s signature black-and-white stenciled style on a white background. Prostrated in front of the sign, the women are reminiscent of the lamenting figures typically seen at the base of the crucifixion in Renaissance paintings. The bold red sign reading “SALE ENDS TODAY” evokes typical shop signs designed to catch attention and make people buy products they would not necessarily need, in an obvious critique of our materialistic society.
Sale Ends Today, 2006
oil on canvas, 213.4 x 426.7 cm (84×168 inches)
Christie’s Hong-Kong, 24 May 2021
USD 6,060,000
Through this work, Banksy points at the near-religious fervor with which contemporary society regards consumerism. The image can be interpreted as an ironic statement on the glorified, hegemonic status of capitalism and the market, commentary on the nearly religious nature of sales and of consumer goods worshipped by the masses.
Sale Ends (Version 2), 2017
Screen-print in colors on wove paper
Edition: 500 signed
With its careful balance of satire and tradition, this work shows Banksy at the height of his creative talent. The women in Sale Ends seem to be both mourning the last day of the sale and worshipping capitalism, making this an important piece of criticism as well as a striking work of art.

3. Barcode

Barcode, also known as Barcode Leopard, shows a majestic leopard in the foreground who just escaped from his cage, resembling a barcode on wheels. At first sight, this print is a clear criticism on the way humans use animals for their own entertainment, having created zoos and sea-parks. But the fact the cage is shown as a barcode clearly indicates Banksy is using a metaphor to simultaneously send a message about consumerism.
Indeed, the barcode serves as a symbol of consumerism and capitalism. It was introduced in the 1970’s to standardize consumer’s products, in order to facilitate people purchase more things in a faster and more efficient manner at the store. The leopard is demonstrating the ability we all have to free ourselves from the power of consumerism.
Another interpretation links the choice of the leopard and the barcode by their unique character. Just as all leopards have a unique pattern of spots, all barcodes have unique combinations too. The big cat embodies the diversity of form, whereas the notion of consumerism suggested through the image of the barcode evokes homogeneity.

Barcode, 2004
Screen-print in black and white on cream wove paper
Editions: 150 signed, 600 unsigned




Barcode Leopard, 2002
Spray-paint and emulsion on canvas
64.8 x 81.3 cm (25 1/2 x 32 inches)
Banksy used the barcode symbolism in various other works.
For example, Barcode Shark shows a barcode in the shape of a shark in Banksy’s signature stencil-style. Banksy often employs a monochromatic palette to emphasize his powerful message, and this black and white artwork is a fine example of that signature stencil-style.
Barcode Shark, 2002
Stencil spray-paint on canvas
43×43 cm (17×17 inches)
This very rare edition on canvas has been exhibited at Existencilism, held in Los Angeles at 33 1/3 Gallery in 2002.
Banksy also frequently attached a barcode to Heavy Weaponry, thus linking his anti-war statement to consumerism, after all the appetite of Western societies is driven by the hefty profits generated by the military industry as well.
Heavy Weaponry, 1998
Spray-paint on MDF board
50.5 x 52.5 cm (19 7/8 x 20 11/16 inches)


4. Morons


Showing an auctioneer conducting a sale to a room packed with bidders, Morons is based on the historical moment when van Gogh’s Sunflowers achieved a hammer price of GBP 22.5 million at Christie’s on 30 March 1987, setting the record price for any work of art at auction.



This moment marked the beginning of a new era in the art market, with the emergence of mega lots fetching absolutely staggering sums of money. In Banksy‘s version, the large canvas being auctioned humorously bears the words, in block capitals



Morons, Barely Legal, Los Angeles on 2006
Banksy mocks the crowd, representing art collectors in general, who are ready to bid huge sums of money in order to acquire artworks. Some even doing so just to speculate and resell at higher prices, transforming the art market almost into a commodities trading market.
Ironically, Banksy himself is now at the center of intense bidding from art collectors willing to purchase his works for very high prices.
This artwork was exhibited for the first time at Barely Legal, in Los Angeles. Banksy also released a screen-print on paper, in various colorways.
Morons (Sepia), 2007
Screen-print in colors on wove paper
Edition: 300 signed


Obviously, Banksy’s relationship with the art market is complicated and nuanced, just like his relationship with law enforcement. The artist has expressed similarly critical opinions of the art world’s commercialism through public pranks such as the famous stunt he pulled in 2008 at Sotheby’s, where a canvas version of Girl with Balloon was shredded live, immediately after the hammer struck down at a record price. A shredder that Banksy built into the frame itself was triggered, causing the art to immediately begin being shredded to the shock and horror of the art world. The painting has since been renamed Love is in the Bin, and has unquestionably increased substantially in value after it got partially shredded publicly. The irony never ends with Banksy.



In his  Crude Oils exhibit, Banksy also exhibited his own remix of van Gogh‘s Sunflowers. In his version, the sunflowers are all dead, most probably because of various human activities who are progressively destroying our planet, a recurring theme in the artist’s oeuvre. Again, things are never quite what you’d expect when it comes to Banksy– this is yet another example of him using his humor and wit to deliver a message.


Sunflowers from Petrol Station, 2005
Oil on canvas in artist’s frame, 76.5×61 cm (29 7/8 x 24 inches)
Sunflowers (in its original title, in French, Tournesols) is the name of two series of still lifes painted by Vincent van Gogh. Those paintings are widely considered some of the most important paintings in art history from the still-life period. The first series, executed in Paris in 1887, depicts the flowers lying on the ground, while the second set, made a year later in Arles, shows a bouquet of sunflowers in a vase.
The flowers in the paintings are at various stages in the plant’s life cycle, symbolic to the cycle of human life. This subject was very significant for the artist as sunflowers represent devotion and loyalty, and the color yellow was a symbol of happiness for the artist.



5. Tesco


Very Little Helps shows a group of children surrounding a flagpole. Instead of raising a flag, one of them is raising a Tesco branded plastic bag while the other two are pledging their allegiance with their hands on their hearts. It first appeared as a mural, in Essex Road, London, in 2007.


Very Little Helps, Essex Road, London
A clear reference to Tesco’s famous slogan “Every little helps,” Banksy denounces the presence of the supermarket chain on almost every high street in Britain, and, in some ways, its forcing out of diversity and independence.
Obviously, the flag also illustrates the theory that some corporations have become so large and ever-present in our every day lives that they are as powerful as nation states. In its critique of Tesco, this work joins previous prints such as Soup Can which focuses on the ‘Tesco value’ range of soups. At the same time, paying homage to Warhol‘s iconic Campbell Soup, Banksy took a take on the latent poverty of working class in the UK, as well as on the uniformization of consumer’s products.


Very Little Helps, 2008
Screen-print in colors on wove paper
Edition: 299 signed

Child with Tesco Castle, Brighton
Banksy’s oeuvre often engages in a direct dialogue with art history. In its synthesis of street-smarts, counter-cultural wit, and art historical reverence, Tesco Value Soup Can from 2004 is the ultimate examples of this. Referencing one of the true paradigms of twentieth-century art, Tesco Value Soup Can presents a pastiche of Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Can paintings. Tesco Value Soup Can is remarkable as an entirely hand-painted work on canvas (the majority of the artist’s canvasses are made with stenciled spray paint). In a major way, this mirrors Warhol’s very first Campbell’s Soup Cans – works that were painstakingly executed by hand shortly before Warhol turned to screen-printing for a more facile and factory-style mode of production.
Tesco Value Soup Can, 2004
Oil on canvas, 121.9×91.5 cm (48×36 inches)
Crude Oils, London, October 2005
Consistent with Banksy’s subversion of established art-world customs, this painting was exhibited alongside a litany of iconoclastic art-historical pastiches in the now fabled Crude Oils exhibition in October 2005. Conceived as a temporary pop-up exhibition on 100 Westbourne Grove in London and on view for only 12 days, this show undermined the bourgeois nature of many of history’s most iconic works of art. Tesco Value Soup Can was a focal point of this early exhibition and, interestingly enough, Banksy chose to make a diminutive version of the same work later that year, which he covertly hung in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the very home of Warhol’s incipient thirty-two Campbell’s Soup Cans from 1962. The presence of Banksy’s riff on Warhol’s Soup Cans went unnoticed by staff for six days before being discovered and taken off public view (the work however is still in the hands of the museum).

In 1962, Warhol took the universally treasured and quintessentially American design of an inexpensive consumer product and turned it into a paragon of high art; 40 years later, Banksy adapted Warhol’s all-American democratic symbol and made it relevant to his contemporary moment. Banksy’s Tesco Value Soup Can draws on a more affordable version of Warhol’s beloved Campbell’s soup; marketed as part of the UK supermarket’s Value range, this product utterly lacks the stylish branding that made Campbell’s soup a symbol of the booming post-war economy in the USA. By choosing Tesco supermarkets’ own-brand of tomato soup and its basic no-frills packaging – a stark contrast to comparative luxury of Campbell’s design classic – Banksy’s painting speaks to a bread-line culture of austerity and welfare. Herein, Banksy transforms an icon of post-war American affluence into a pithy pedestrian emblem of twenty-first-century cost-cutting.


6. Lifestyle


Sorry The Lifestyle You Ordered Is Currently Out Of Stock first appeared in December 2011 in London, on the side of an empty building believed to be a failed housing project.


Sorry The Lifestyle your Ordered is Currently out of Stock, London, December 2011
Banksy widely used this statement in various originals, notably on a Damien Hirst Pharmaceutical (spot) painting that the artist defaced, and that broke a record at auction. It is the second time a Defaced Hirst appeared at auction. Keep It Spotless, featuring an iconic Banksy‘s stencil of a maid, sold at auction in 2008 for a record price at the time.
Sorry The Lifestyle You Ordered Is Currently Out of Stock (Defaced Hirst), 2013-2014
Spray paint, emulsion and household gloss on canvas
99.1×114.3 cm (39×45 inches)
With this painting, Banksy is not only criticizing consumerism, but also the way art collectors might be purchasing artworks – not for their artistic qualities, but rather for what they mean in terms of lifestyle and as a status symbol.
Spot paintings are very well adapted to Banksy‘s statement about lifestyle, as they are among Damien Hirst’s most recognizable and popular works. Damien Hirst is one of the most successful and controversial living British artists, and the spot painting series have long been selling for very high prices. Hirst created his very first spot painting while he was still a student in 1986 at London’s Goldsmiths College. Today, there likely more than 1000 spot paintings in the world of various sizes, shapes, and colors. However, there has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding them as the vast majority of them were not actually painted by Hirst himself, but rather by his studio assistants.

7. Shopping Bags

Christ with Shopping Bags portrays the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, yet Banksy has removed the structure of the cross from the iconic scene and is offering quite a shocking image to address consumerism. Indeed, Jesus Christ is holding shopping bags, carefully wrapped with fluorescent pink ribbons, and seeping with black blood. One can glimpse Christmas presents such as candy cane and Mickey Mouse. The image is undoubtedly meant as a satire on modern commercialism, pointing a finger at the hypocrisy of modern celebration. The intrusion of consumerism and modern commercialism in the hands of Jesus Christ evokes a great sense of unease. Banksy here is touching upon something sacred.
Christ with Shopping Bags, 2004
Screen-print in colors on paper
Edition: 82 signed
Furthermore, Jesus Christ appears in pain, weighed down by the shopping bags, symbolizing the damage consumerism has on the original values of Christianity such as charity, compassion, forgiveness and gratitude. Banksy uses effective motifs such as the melting gifts to suggest the ephemerality of modern Christmas, whilst the crucifixion represents how society has sacrificed happiness for material things, which offer only transitory joy.
The grey background and muted colors evoke a sense of foreboding and gloom while, at the same time, reinforcing Banksy’s comment on the superficiality of modern Christmas in this clever composition.
Happy Shopper, 2009
Birch faced ply, cast jesmonite
238.5x116x74 cm (93 7/8 x 45 5/8 x 29 1/8 inches)
Venus, one of the icons of Antique sculptures, has also seceded to the Gods of consumerism, as she is carrying shopping bags. Taking a classical statue from the museum as his model, Banksy mischievously adapts the figure, festooning the statue’s arms with shopping bags and placing a pair of over-sized sunglasses on her face. The effect is both startling and highly amusing. Were it not for her antique drapery, one would be forgiven for seeing this statue as a modern day woman. It is speculated that Banksy might have used Paris Hilton as the inspiration for Happy Shopper. She was also at the center of one of his more entertaining pranks where he swapped in doctored versions of her debut album at record stores only for the buyers to be sorely disappointed when they finally got home and took a closer look at what they bought.

8. Napalm

Napalm is perhaps one of the most poignant and striking prints that Banksy created, cementing his position as one of the brilliant political contemporary artists. This artwork is a striking statement against the military-industrialist complex linking warfare with capitalism that Banksy is criticizing throughout his career. More widely, this work also encapsulates a critique of the sometimes disastrous impact of colonialism, and occupation.
Napalm, 2004
Screen-print in colors on wove paper
50x70cm (19 5/8 x 27 1/2 inches)
Editions: 150 signed, 500 unsigned
In Napalm, Banksy reinvents the Pulitzer Prize-winning image of this 9-year-old girl, fleeing a napalm blast naked in fear. By wittingly adding alongside two of the most recognizable icons in American consumer culture, Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald, the artist creates a sickening juxtaposition with the image of Kim screaming in pain from the napalm burns and their big smiles. Napalm comments not just on the horrors of the Vietnam war, but of the then recent US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. The comparison of one of the most provocative and horrifying photograph of war, joined by two symbols of American culture highlights the commodification of war.
The Terror of War, Photograph by Nick Ut, Vietnam War, 1972
The seemingly innocent figures of those American icons would suggest a more sinister reality of huge corporations in the reckless pursuit of profit, immune to the consequences on the most vulnerable. This work is also known as “Can’t be the feeling,” a clear reference to the well-known tag-line used by Coca Cola. Obviously, by using two prevalent symbols of American consumerism (and naming the piece after a third),
Banksy critiques the American consumer culture, warning of the excess of capitalism, and its impact on the population, especially children.
The original Napalm on canvas was part of an exhibit at the Serpentine Gallery in London, in November 2006 from the Damien Hirst Art Collection.
Napalm (Serpentine Edition), 2007
Screen-print on paper
Edition: 50 signed

9. Ronald McDonald

McDonald’s, together with Disneyland are major “targets” for Banksy as they represent the hegemony and destructive power of US consumerism.

McDonalds is stealing our children

Banksy, Cut It Out, December 2004
Banksy has taken aim at McDonald’s in one of the artworks he created for Better Out Than In, his month-long “residency” on the streets of New York.
The fiberglass replica of Ronald McDonald is a live-action sculpture titled “Shoe Shine.”
A fiberglass replica of Ronald McDonald having his shoes shined by a real, live boy. The sculpture visited the sidewalk outside a different McDonalds every lunchtime during one week of the exhibit. The boy looked downtrodden, dirty, and tired while wearing tattered clothing, as Ronald McDonald looks down in a disapproving manner with one hand on his hip.
An audio guide on the artist’s website said Banksy created the artwork – whose face is that of Praxiteles‘ bust of the Greek God Hermes with the help of fellow artists.
It went on to discuss the inspiration behind the piece, saying:
“Ronald was adopted as the official mascot of the McDonald’s fast food corporation chain in 1966.
“Fiberglass versions of his likeness have been installed outside restaurants ever since, thus making Ronald arguably the most sculpted figure in history after Christ.”
“A critique of the heavy labor required to sustain the polished image of a mega-corporation.”
“Is Ronald’s statuesque pose indicative of how corporations have become the historical figures of our era? Does this figure have feet of clay and a massively large footprint to boot?”



10. Cash

Di Faced Tenners represent a sheet of five counterfeit £10 notes, printed on both sides. “Di Faced” is a pun on the word “defaced” and refers to the fact that Banksy has altered the familiar note by replacing the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with that of the late Princess Diana, obviously a comment on Diana’s estrangement from the Royal family, her critique of the British royal institution, and the hounding by the press that ensued.
Instead of “Bank of England,” the note reads “Banksy of England.”
Under the banner, an inscription reads “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the ultimate price,” a reference to the fate of the late Princess, at the hands of the media. The note is printed with inks on paper near identical to that used on official UK-issued currency.
At least 100,000 Di Faced Tenners were printed by Banksy in August 2004, for a grand total of more than £1 million in fake currency. They were initially created for a public art stunt which involved dropping a suitcase full of the fake notes into the crowd at the Notting Hill Carnival and at the Reading Festival. Banksy’s project was designed to demonstrate the effect of “free money” on people, especially in a large crowd. It allowed him to demonstrate how people acted when there seemed to be money falling from the heavens.
The bills were later used (and still, to this day, are) by Pest Control Office as part of the Certificate of Authenticity.
In the “Banksy of England” monetary world, it seems that a few cash distribution machines have gone wild in London.
In the “Banksy of England” monetary world, it seems that a few cash distribution machines have gone wild in London…
Banksy, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall, November 2001
Cash Machine Girl, London, 2007
Cash Machine Girl appeared in 2007, close to Exmouth Market, in North London. The mural depicts a young girl being lifted by the eerie robotic arm emerging from a cash machine.
This mural appears to have a blatantly anti-capitalist message, warning passers-by about the corrupt power of banks and how you can easily become “kidnapped” by capital.
Even the most anti-capitalist party-goers attending some kind of alternative festival have been kept hostage by capitalism…
Festival (signed AP), 2006
Screen-print on paper
Indeed, in Festival, also known as Destroy Capitalism, a group of people at a music festival are queueing up to buy t-shirts. They are clearly portrayed as punks, goths and hippies attending an alternative music festival with clothes, haircuts and attitudes representative of those subcultures. They represent what society might consider as “anti-capitalists.” However, they queue up to buy a $30 t-shirt. illustrating the power that capitalism holds even for its most fervent opponents.
In one of his most recent editioned prints, Banksquiat, Banksy pays homage to Basquiat. Banksy offers a mirror to his own practice of appropriation as well as that of the endless wheel of capitalism and consumerism in which masterpieces are massively reproduced on tee shirts or rehashed for advertising campaigns – and, in many cases, are a complete contradiction to the original intent or message of the art.
Banksquiat (Grey), 2019
Screen-print on grey board
70×70 cm (27 1/2 x 27 1/2 inches)
Edition: 300 signed
Banksquiat depicts a Ferris wheel in which all the carriages have been replaced by Basquiat’s famous crown motif. By referencing Basquiat so openly, Banksy seems to be aligning himself with the tradition of street art as high art, which arguably has its origins in the work of Basquiat whose career was launched by his many interventions in the urban environment. Banksy makes further reference to street art history by choosing to print his design in grey with the crowns outlined in a chalky white against a black ground. This is a “tip of the cap” to yet another icon of street, Keith Haring, who started his career with a series of subway drawings, rendered in chalk on empty advertising panels in the New York Metro system.
Banksquiat comments on the excesses of late capitalism that allows artworks to be commodified. At the same time, there is a paradox at play; in order for art to be accessible to all – which is perhaps central to Banksy’s mission as an artist, as well as that of Haring and even also Basquiat – art must be reproduced and shared rather than held ransom by a handful of the elite who own the original artwork or the intellectual property. In this way, Banksy cleverly comments on, as the original website description puts it, “the relentless commodification of Basquiat in recent times – by crassly adding to the relentless commodification of Basquiat in recent times.”
This commodification of artworks was exemplified by the opening of Gross Domestic Product itself, which began life as a showroom in Croydon in October 2019, intended to publicize the launch of a new online Banksy “homewares brand.” While thousands of fans attempted to buy something from the store, many were disappointed as they found that GDP did not operate as a traditional retail model, but instead required the prospective buyer to enter a lottery system in order to acquire one of the products. In this way, Banksy opened the floodgates to the commodification of his own work while still retaining a certain amount of control over who his primary sales went to.

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