Elusive artist Banksy opens online shop selling 'art, homeware and disappointment'

  • Arts
  • Sunday, 20 Oct 2019

Prospective shoppers have to go through an application process to buy any item from Banksy's Gross Domestic Product online store, which includes answering the question 'Why does art matter?' in 50 words or less. Photo: AFP

Just weeks after the record-breaking sale of his latest piece Devolved Parliament, anonymous UK-based street artist and political activist Banksy is bringing his anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian art online.

The elusive British artist announced the online shop for Gross Domestic Product on Instagram, stating that it will encompass a diverse selection of "art, homeware and disappointment".

Among the selection are mugs, cushions, purses, a disco ball police helmet, and clocks with the artist's signature rat motif, which were all on view earlier this week at Banksy's pop-up showroom in Croydon, England.

Also on sale is a Girl With Red Balloon T-shirt where the bottom half is shredded into tendrils, a nod to the prank the artist pulled in October 2018 at Sotheby's London. Girl With Red Balloon began to pass through a shredder hidden in its frame seconds after it was sold for £1.04mil (RM5.4mil).

Another highlight is a John Bull stab-proof vest "as worn by Stormzy at Glastonbury festival (because it's very dangerous there)", listed at £850 (RM4,620). Other items range from £10 (RM54) to £850 (RM4,620), with Banksy claiming to have "price fixed the first releases for lower income patrons".

Banksy added that wealthy art collectors are discouraged to purchase any items from the shops as they are "far below market value".

Banksy's Girl With Red Balloon T-shirt, complete with a shredded bottom half.

Prospective shoppers have to go through an application process to buy anything from the shop, which includes answering the question "Why does art matter?" in 50 words or less.

Responses must be logged by Oct 28, 2019, and will be judged by British comedian Adam Bloom, who urges potential buyers to make their answer as "amusing, informative or enlightening as possible".

"We can't ever weed out all the people who just want to flip for profit, but we can weed out the unfunny ones," Banksy explained in a statement.

According to Art Newspaper, the shop was motivated by Banksy's trademark dispute with Full Colour Black. "A greetings card company is contesting the trademark I hold to my art, and attempting to take custody of my name so they can sell their fake Banksy merchandise legally," he said in a statement.

However, Banksy clarified on his website that he "continues to encourage the copying, borrowing and uncredited use of his imagery for amusement, activism and education purposes." – AFP

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