By Gus Nations, IV | Guest Writer
It’s been one year since the ever anonymous Banksy sent the art world reeling with one of the most daring and meaningful stunts it has ever seen.
On October 5, 2018 at Sotheby’s auction house in London, as it was being sold for approximately $1 million, Banksy’s “Girl With Balloon” self-destructed.
After the skepticism of the legitimacy of the stunt wore off, people were left wondering: “Why would an artist destroy their own work?” The answer proved to be not quite as complicated as one would have thought. Banksy, an artist known for his often controversial pieces, sought to share a message of capitalist consumerism and punish those partaking in the auction for their perceived greed.
Besides that, shredding the painting may have been the most exciting event in the art community of the recent past. As more of a music man myself, hearing about something as bold as shredding a recently sold $1 million painting was enough to have me researching just who Banksy was and how he could possibly get away with something so revolutionary in an industry known for its formality and poise.
For myself and others with a passing interest in visual art, no additional message was needed to appreciate and recognize the influence that this self-destruction stunt would have on the industry. Stepping out of the stereotype was enough to draw attention of people who did not previously have anything to do with the industry.
Such an obvious act of defiance of tradition made me and many others realize that there is always potential to do something groundbreaking, even in a field known to be very formal. In destroying his own work, Banksy proved that there are no confines to expression.
Rather ironically, after Banksy’s stunt, the painting almost doubled in value, seemingly proving his message on consumer capitalism. I realized very quickly in my research that Banksy is a man in control.
To see a person who was bold enough to destroy a piece of his own art seems like a refreshing change of pace in an industry fraught with people who seem unable to act of their own devices. In destroying his painting, Banksy proved that there is control in the chaos, and he can control his narrative in his own unique way.
For that, I have infinite respect.