Behind Banksy’s self-destructing art

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Just seconds after the thud of the hammer Banksy’s painting slid down in its frame shredding itself into pieces.

No one expected the ‘Girl with a Balloon’ to self-destruct after it had just sold for a mammoth £1.04 million at Sothbey’s in London.

It turned out that the frame contained a hidden shredder which was set off at the opportune moment.

His stunt was hilariously brilliant and he posted an image of the shredded picture with the caption “Going, going, gone…”

The following day he published a video showing how he had built the paper shredder into the frame of the ‘Girl with a Balloon’ in 2006.

This time he titled it citing Picasso- “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”

The act of a self-destructing painting is pure genius.

In capturing the world’s attention the famous faceless artist has sent a message that art is being strangled by money.

Despite this fight against commercialised art the painting is now said to be worth an extra 50%.

It is not the first time auto-destructive art has been used as a form of protest.

The art form began in the 60s with artist Gustav Metzger implementing the term.

His works included spraying acid onto sheets of nylon creating changing shapes in the dissolving sheets in a political and creative protest against war.

It is a powerful creative form and Banksy’s stunt will certainly go down in history.

Although brilliant, the artist’s trick raised many questions- had Sothbey’s been in on the act? How did a shredder which had been sat in a frame for 12 years still work? Would its batteries not be flat? Was Banksy himself at the auction house?

Speculation arose when an online video showed a middle-aged man filming the moment when the picture is shredded before shortly being escorted out the room.

Many asked if that was that the famous artist who has kept his identity hidden for over 20 years.

It is unlikely we will ever know the answer to that question or the others.

The faceless man will remain faceless and his stunt will remain in part a mystery.

Although this trick stunned us all it isn’t the first time that Banksy has fooled us.

In 2013 he set up a pop up stall in Central Park selling his work for $60. Few passers-by bought from the stall believing the art was fake Banksy. The following day Banksy issued a statement that the pop up stall was in fact selling 100% authentic original signed canvases.

His brilliance will continue to have us baffled and left in mystery but that is what makes Banksy a great artist of his time.

Banksy hasn’t just shredded a painting, he has left the world in shreds too.

Words by Emma Dunn

Edited by Megan Drew

Image via Sotheby’s

Khushi and Vicky are your entertainment editors

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