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Petrolhead, 2003


Petrolhead, 2003
Edition: 25
Acrylic and spray-paint stencil on canvas
30×30 cm (11 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches)
Tagged on the right-side edge
Dated and numbered on the stretcher

A parody of road signs or a satirical warning about ecological destruction? Banksy’s stencil on canvas Petrolhead, which depicts a stick figure holding the nozzle of a petrol pump to his head, could be interpreted as both. The title Petrolhead references the nickname given to an individual who is passionate about cars to the point of obsession and prefers motor vehicles above all other forms of transport. Banksy’s witty interpretation suggests that this love of cars is a metaphorical gun to the head, not just for this individual driver but for humanity, due to the connection between fossil fuels and the climate crisis.

Petrolhead was created in 2003 and released as an edition of 25. It was first made available at Banksy’s Santa Ghetto pop-up on London’s Oxford Street in December 2003. Along with prints and paintings by Banksy, the shop also sold works by Jamie Hewlett, Faile, Massive Attack’s 3D and other street artists – with prices starting at as little as £40.

“The Ghetto is partly a shameless commercial enterprise, and partly about promoting art. But basically it is a piss-take on Christmas.”

Petrolhead sold only once at auction. Petrolhead (Edition 3/25) sold at Sotheby’s London on 14 October 2011, for GBP 25,000 (USD 39,719).