With the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham, where better for Banksy to create a mural satirising government surveillance? The Banksy artwork Spy Booth appeared on the wall of a privately-owned house overnight in April 2014. The mural was so popular with tourists that the Georgian house became one of the UK’s most photographed homes and was given listed status protection by Cheltenham Borough Council in 2015.
Spy Booth, which is the second most popular Banksy print purchased by Canvas Art Rocks customers in recent years (after Banksy’s Girl with Balloon) features three government agents in brown trench coats and sunglasses listening in to conversations from a BT telephone box. It appeared after Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 of widespread phone tapping by western governments.
Sadly, in 2016, the owner of the home featuring this piece of Banksy graffiti had to carry out urgent repairs to the property which resulted in the artwork being destroyed.
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Looking for new prints? Seize the opportunity with our 3 for 2 deal! Below are some ideas to help you narrow down your choice from the wealth of Banksy posters and canvases we have to offer. Following on from Spy Booth, here are five Banksy artworks with political themes.
This 2009 Banksy painting (oil on canvas) sees the artist depicting British MPs as chimps in the House of Commons. Chimpanzees as a symbol of stupidity or chattering over action – or as an ironically superior alternative to politicians – is a common theme for Banksy: other chimpanzee-themed artworks of his can be found here and here!
It was first shown at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery as part of their 2009 Banksy exhibition. When it comes to Banksy art for sale, this piece became his biggest sale at the time, selling in October 2019 for £9.9 million, or $12.2 million, at Sotheby’s in London.
At first glance this picture may look like an ordinary print of Jack Vettriano’s popular painting The Singing Butler. And yet Banksy’s trademark irony is present in the appearance of two waste disposal workers and their canister of toxic waste ready to be dumped into the ocean, the iconic dancing couple looking on towards them. Banksy is clearly not averse to making his mark on a classic with a political statement – make guests look twice when you hang the poster on your wall and you’ll do the same.
This mural, often known as Crayon Boy, appeared on the wall of an Urban Outfitters in Los Angeles in 2011: a young boy with a machine gun whose ammunition is a line of crayons. He is surrounded by a representation of a child’s crayon drawing of flowers and the sun. The grim reality of childhoods spent among war or gang violence (LA as Banksy’s chosen location drives this home), and a deliberately idealised depiction of what childhood should be creates a poignant and eye-catching image.
Banksy’s dystopian image of the riot cop with wings and a yellow smiley face, titled Flying Copper, didn’t originate as one single graffito like his Crayon Boy or Abe Lincoln.
Is Banksy’s faceless, winged riot officer an angel here to protect us? Or does the combination of his weapon and blank ‘smile’ suggest something more sinister? Banksy again holds and contrasts differing perspectives within one image, and within one symbol – that ‘happy’ smiley face.
Banksy created multiple iterations of Flying Copper, from hundreds of screen prints in 2003 to huge cut-out paintings as part of a London exhibition in the same year. Murals have also appeared in London, Vienna and Berlin. We’ve also got options for you: check out this graffiti-heavy version on our store, or check out Flying Copper in a multitude of coloured backgrounds, from pink or blue to red or green.
Like Nola, Banksy stencilled this image of Lincoln in New Orleans in 2008, three years after the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina. The building on which it appeared has since been demolished. Banksy’s envisions the 16th US president as a homeless man, stooped and pushing a trolley, his trademark presidential hat and suit baggy and wrinkled. It’s perhaps a sharp critique of government inaction in the face of the hurricane’s devastation, despite (or because) of the great number of deaths and loss of property visited upon the city’s poorest black residents. This almost angrily ironic depiction of the moderate Republican Lincoln – renowned for his reputation as an emancipator of black southern slaves – as destitute brings him close to New Orleans’ worst off, highlighting the failings of the then Republican government to effect a meaningful programme of rebuilding and restitution. The implication is perhaps that Lincoln’s legacy has been cast aside and forgotten, just like Banksy’s version of the President in this ‘portrait’.