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Million-Dollar Banksy Painting Shreds Itself

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Banksy has done it again.

Banksy is a world-famous artist, but no one knows exactly who Banksy is–or even if Banksy is male or female.

That’s because Banksy is a “street artist.” Most of the art Banksy creates is painted on the sides of buildings, public walls and other places that are out in the open. And the art is created without anyone seeing them being created. So Banksy has remained anonymous (meaning that no one knows who it is).

Banksy’s art is “political.” That means it’s not just interesting to look at, but it makes a point about something.

One of Banksy’s most famous paintings is called Girl with Balloon. It was painted in 2002 on a wall in the UK.

Recently, a framed copy of Girl with Balloon was auctioned off (sold) for nearly two million dollars.

The painting was on the wall at the auction house, known as Sotheby’s, and something very startling happened. Suddenly, the painting started to drop down in its frame. But even more surprising, the painting was shredded by some blades that were in the bottom of the frame. The painting started getting cut into strips (similar to when you put a piece of paper through a paper shredder).

(You can see the painting being shredded in the BBC video, below.) And even more surprising, it was Banksy who destroyed the painting.

Shortly after the auction, Banksy posted a video on Instagram showing how the shredder was put into the frame–on purpose–“in case it was ever put up for auction,” according to the video.

No one knows exactly why Banksy did it, but on Instagram Banksy put a quote from another famous painter, Picasso, that said, “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”  Some people from Sotheby’s grabbed the painting when they saw what was happening, and stopped the shredding about half-way through.

The new owner of the painting (whom Sotheby’s says is “a European collector”) was at first shocked but then realized the painting is now even more interesting.

The painting has now been renamed “Love Is in the Bin,” (“bin” is a British word for “garbage can”) and it may even be more valuable than ever.

The Story Behind The Story: Street Art (2:02)

Below: Video of Girl with Balloon becoming Love is in the Bin (posted on the BBC News website).

Related Links
Was Sotheby’s “in on it”? An interesting look at whether the auction house may have known the painting would be shredded, in this article by The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/oct/13/shredded-banksy-was-sothebys-in-on-the-act

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt

Why might Banksy have decided to shred this artwork? What statements and values is Banksy communicating?

Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
Refer to the writing/discussion prompt. Do you agree with the statements and values that Banksy is communicating? Why or why not?

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them  (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Language Feature: Words that Provide Context
Read the following sentence:

Recently, a framed copy of Girl with Balloon was auctioned off (sold) for nearly two million dollars.

Words like “recently,” tell the reader that the information in the sentence will provide context to the article. As you write your own stories and journals, consider using words that provide context to enhance your writing.

In the past, Historically, Traditionally, Customarily, Beforehand, Originally,  Prior to this, Earlier, Formerly, Previously, Over time, In earlier, Initially, At first, Recently . . .