What do you buy for the person who has everything?
A 230kg reminder that you can’t take it with you.
Hand-carved by Banksy in a slab of Portland stone.
For collection only – From the quarry
Release Price: Unknown
Tombstone serves as a heavy reminder of death – the only certainty in life – while at the same time perhaps making fun of the British po-faced attitude towards it. Banksy offers a mirror to our collective identity, showing us the farce behind the traditions that bind us together and keep us locked into a structure of rationality and fear to which his work offers some light relief.
“What do you buy for the person who has everything?”
Emblazoned with the message “You have now reached your destination” in a font that mimics the pixelated text of video games or bus announcements, Tombstone, made from Portland stone, was hand carved by Banksy himself.
When Gross Domestic Product(GDP) opened, the work was only available to collect in person “from the quarry” to emphasize more on the joke the artist played on fans and critics with the opening of the GDP showroom in Croydon, South London. Those who came expecting to be able to walk home with an original Banksy artwork were quite disappointed. Not only were no sales made in person, but one also needed to answer the question “why does art matter?” in order to be entered into a competition lottery system that was intended to keep out people buying purely for investment.
Tombstone further demonstrates Banksy‘s criticism of the consumer market, offering a dark comment on our society’s need to commoditize everything – even death. The work also demonstrates the artist’s fascination with death and mortality as themes to be exploited for their humor as well as their sadness, as seen in the famous Grin Reaper, an iconic visual which he adapted to replace the traditional skull with a smiley face.
In this way Banksy joins a long line of artists since the beginning of times who painted or created various skulls and other vanities to remind the viewing of her/his mortal condition. With the present work, rather than employing the skull or scythe as a symbol of death, Banksy conveys his message with a tombstone, the traditional marker of death in Western culture. While less jarring than a skull, a tombstone still forces people to reconcile with a complicated and nuanced range of emotions. It also invites further questions about what it means to truly live, as well as “what happens after we die?”
Grin Reaper, screen-print on paper, 2004
“Guaranteed to tell the correct time twice a day”