Overview of Banksy Editions
Summary Overview of Banksy Editions
Banksy released 18 editions on canvas between 2000 and 2005, each in small edition sizes of 10, 15, or 25. These have long been revered by collectors, because they not only feature some of the most iconic Banksy visuals, but also because they are exceptionally rare.
For the most part, editioned canvases were produced to look and “feel” the same, with a few exceptions. Banksy released 4 different color variants of Heavy Weaponry, as well as several variations in color or motif on Love Is In The Air, Girl with Balloon, Monkey Detonator, Keep It Real, Gangsta Rat, and Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
Banksy also released some editioned canvases featuring visuals that do not re-appear in future works (or were seen prior to the release of the edition) such as Mosquito, Winnie The Pooh, and Paranoid Pictures. This is noteworthy because he often revisits characters, themes, and imagery (smiley faces, rats, monkeys, police/military personnel, to name a few) used in earlier works to advance that topic in later works.
Additionally, Banksy produced three sculptures: Bronze Rat (edition of 12), Watchtower (edition of 15), and Grappling Hook (edition of 26), as well as a few other sculptures in run sizes of less than 10. These will be explored further in the Banksy Originals section.
1. HEAVY WEAPONRY
Heavy Weaponry is perhaps the most quintessential Banksy canvas in the sense that it features a number of motifs the artist has been using since the very beginning of his career. Banksy created at least 4 editions on canvas using the Heavy Weaponry stencil: 2 editions of 10 in 2000, 1 edition of 25 in 2003, and a special, Silver Edition of 25 in 2004.
London, New-York, Bristol (Heavy Weaponry), 2000
Heavy Weaponry depicts a singular elephant made in Banksy’s recognizable stencil style with a rocket strapped to its back. The image of the elephant bearing a rocket on its back carries various interpretations; presumably the general message is anti-military, in line with Banksy’s other works using similar imagery. The barcode in the background touches on the theme of consumerism, in this case, likely referring to the commodification of war and violence, as well as the role money plays in it. The names of the cities where the artist painted many of his murals at the time are also featured, all of them crossed out except for Bristol (where he hails from).
Heavy Weaponry) 2000
This version of Heavy Weaponry is filled with a variety of symbols and motifs that have recurred throughout the Bristol-born artist’s practice: an oversize barcode, and his signature elephant backpacking a missile. As was the case with the first edition of Heavy Weaponry, the piece is charged with a not so thinly veiled “anti-war” sentiment, openly questioning and criticizing the commoditization of military engagement.
Heavy Weaponry, 2003
Here, Banksy revisits the Heavy Weaponry imagery used in the editions from 2000, though this time he has used a new stencil – the elephant is oriented in a different direction, and the tail, legs and trunk are differentiated from the previous editions of 10 that were produced in 2000. The message here remains the same, though the barcode is no longer featured.
“As soon as I cut my first stencil I could feel the power there. I like the political edge. All graffiti is low-level dissent, but stencils have an extra history. They’ve been used to start revolutions and to stop wars”
Heavy Weaponry (Silver Edition), 2004
In 2004, Banksy released yet another edition of Heavy Weaponry. It appears that he opted for the same stencil used to produce the 2003 edition to create the 2004 silver edition seen above. The commodification of war and anti-war message is one that was, even in the early days, central to his work.
2. MONKEYS, RATS, MOSQUITOS
Monkey Detonator depicts a cheerful monkey with a headset on, listening to music (or perhaps instructions from his superior?) jumping in mid-air as he prepares to detonate an explosive.
Monkey Detonator, 2000
Monkey Detonator has various interpretations. One could be a commentary on animal rights, but more likely is a “rough draft” to Keep It Real and Laugh Now – imagery that directly speaks to how our time is running out before the oppressed (be that the working class or the animals we keep in cages) strike back.
This is certainly the case for Keep It Real, the now famous placard chimpanzee presented as the loveable underdog – unquestionably one of Banksy’s most iconic and popular images.
Keep It Real, 2003
Standing upright like a human being with their signature look of slouched shoulders and downturned eyes, Banksy’s monkeys often popped up overnight on streets, walls and bridges of cities throughout the world. The text written on their boards are often times foreboding, warning of a future that looks different than it is today, while other times the text was less ominous – as was the case with Keep It Real.
On the contrary, Gangsta Rat, with his New York Mets baseball cap, chain necklace, and boombox appears very peaceful and not oppressed at all by society.
Gangsta Rat, 2004
Gangsta Rat appears to have recently drawn an exclamation point, as the paint is still dripping. He seems to emphasize some idea or commentary, or to simply draw the attention of the viewer saying “look at me!”
Bronze Rat is one of the rarest Banksy sculptures, as only 12 were produced. It portrays a rat carrying a back-pack, a reverse cap, and a giant paint-brush. Most probably depicting a graffiti artist who, in the dead of night while others are asleep, sneaks around town with the “tools of the trade” – backpack (presumably with paint, stencils, etc), and a paintbrush that will be used to create their art and communicate their message. Like rats, graffiti artists are nocturnal creatures that carry out their work in the streets, in a clandestine manner, and they are treated with disdain and disgust by society.
Bronze Rat, 2006
In Mosquito, Banksy portrays a giant mosquito as a flying combatant in action, swooping down to attack any human it might cross on its way. The stenciled mosquito, with large wings and a gas mask, is painted against a white background with red stars.
In a typical Banksy’s ironic twist, if a gas mask covered the insect’s head, it would actually prevent it from hurting anybody, or from receiving the blood it needs to survive.
Mosquito is a play on the perception of the blood-sucking insect which exists in the human mind. It seems perhaps it is the mosquito who needs protection from human beings. Banksy often uses various animals, such as monkeys and rats to address social issues. Often these animals, especially if associated with being ”pests” or unwanted rodents like rats, are symbols of the working class, and/or of the fate of the street artist in modern society.
In Winnie the Pooh, Banksy depicts the endearing cartoon bear under a tree, his foot caught in a bear trap. But, in a usual Banksy twist, instead of Pooh Bear’s famous honey pot , he has a pot of money.
Winnie The Pooh, 2003
Winnie the Pooh, who is a symbol of childlike naiveté and good nature has been attracted by money, materialism, consumerism and unfortunately got caught, like so many of us do. Perhaps this is Banksy‘s way of saying that we are all the same or that even the very best of us fall are susceptible to falling victim of the trappings of money, power, and greed.
3. GIRL WITH BALLOON
Banksy released his first edition (of 25) on canvas of Girl with Balloon in 2003, and later revisited the imagery in 2005 when he produced Girl with Balloon as a diptych. This, too, was an edition of 25. The famous Girl with Balloon also appears in another of his canvas editions from 2003, Kids On Guns.
Girl and Balloon, 2003
Balloon Girl (diptych), 2003
The simplicity and severity of the color contrasts in Kids on Guns gives it both beauty and deeper meaning, making it one of the artist’s most somber visuals.
Kids On Guns, 2003
The viewer is immediately moved by the silhouettes of a young boy and a girl on top of a mountain made out of weapons. As they look at one another, she holds her red heart balloon as he holds a teddy bear. The appear to be find comfort and safety within each other, and there is hope that perhaps if adults could tap into the innocence and love children innately have for others, we might be able to overcome the current state of affairs that are marked by war, hatred, violence, and oppression.
4. OTHER EDITIONS
Precision Bombing depicts a group of men in suits walking towards what seems to be a sports car. The vehicle is being targeted by a green precision gun pointer.
The background of this painting was released in a number of different colors (exact number unknown).
Precision Bombing, 2000
As a recurring theme in Banksy‘s oeuvre, this work makes reference to war and violence, as well as the constant sense of paranoia in which nobody can be trusted. If the men in suits are to be viewed as politicians or perhaps simply “men of power,” this work makes a pointed statement about the hypocrisy prevalent in elite circles of power and money. It might also be viewed as ironic that the very methods by which these men seek to eliminate threats would be used against them.
Precision Bombing, 2000
Lenin on Roller Skates portrays Soviet Union leader Vladimir Lenin roller-skating in Nike branded roller skates.
Lenin on Roller Skates, 2003
Banksy’s work acts as visual cultural criticism and commentary, with established social and political agendas serving as targets for his unique style of stenciled illustration.
In Soviet propaganda, Lenin’s image was commonly depicted with one of his arms outstretched. Banksy satirizes this iconographic symbol of power by re-contextualizing the stereotypical pose as a motion during the act of rollerblading.
Soon after his first solo exhibition at the Los Angeles based 33 1/3 Gallery in 2002, Banksy created the Love is in the Air stencil; it has since become one of his most recognizable icons. Originally spray painted on a wall off London’s Rivington Street, circa 2003, Banksy has reworked the stencil on a regular basis throughout his career. The image of a masked figure throwing a bouquet of flowers is thought to symbolize the action needed to bring about change; as Banksy has remarked, “If you want to say something and have people listen, then you have to wear a mask”.
Love Is In the Air (with Stars), 2003
Paranoid Pictures is a stencil on canvas work which illustrates the logo chosen by Banksy for a fictional production company for Exit Through The Gift Shop, an Oscar-nominated biographical documentary starring Thierry Guetta, also known as Mr. Brainwash. It is an obvious appropriation of the well-known logo of Paramount Pictures.
Paranoid Pictures, 2004