'Monkey Mask Session' by Banksy, 2003
Rare original postcard of Banksy tagging on the streets of London.
Photograph by James Pfaff; originally published in Wall and Piece, 2005.
4 x 6 Inches (postcard)
9 x 11 x 0.8 Inches (framed)
Offset lithograph printed postcard in mint original condition.
Open Edition (Sold Out).
*Note: float-framed in glass and white wood molding.
ABOUT THE ART
“They say that if you gave a thousand monkeys a thousand typewriters at some point you’d have yourself a novel. I was wondering if you gave a thousand monkeys a thousand sticks of dynamite how long would it take for them to make the city a more beautiful looking place.”
The Monkey is a recurring motif in Banksy’s oeuvre, used by the artist as a deliberately provocative character since the early 2000s. In a contemporary take on Singerie, a visual arts genre popular among French artists in the early 18th century which depicted comical scenes of monkeys aping human behavior, Banksy’s chimps too, are often presented in ironic juxtapositions that provide a tongue-in-cheek satirizing of society which so often thinks of itself as ‘above’ the animal kingdom.
Monkeys and humans have historically shared a close relationship, as expounded in Charles Darwin’s mid-1800s publication, Theory of Evolution. Darwin’s book asserted that humans evolved from apes and thus although humans may have set out to create distance between our relatives by ridiculing them as savages – as popularized by French artists in the 18th century in a visual arts genre called singerie, whereby monkeys are depicted in comical scenes aping human behavior – rather, so often we see humans acting in ways that cannot be considered as ‘above’ the animal kingdom.
In contemporary popular culture, this is famously explored in the internationally iconic franchise, Planet of the Apes, a trilogy of science-fiction classics set on a futuristic planet where apes rule and humans are slaves. In their clash for control, complex sociological themes are explored, reflecting tensions relating to humanity and power that are also probed in Banksy’s satiric work.
In recent years, Banksy’s attitude has taken on an increasingly acerbic and politically charged tone. His Walled Off Hotel in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, touted by the artist as having the ‘worst view in the world’, overlooks the highly controversial Israeli West Bank barrier which separates Israel from the Palestinian territories. Contrasting its 19th century bourgeois interior are disturbing aberrations crammed into every corner, such as the life-size monkey bellboy that welcomes guests through the door. Employing zoological symbolism to further ridicule this spectacle, Banksy’s dark humor moves visitors outside of their comfort zones, drawing attention to areas of social and political struggle.