Here’s why Banksy’s signed Petrol Bomb lithograph is a must-have for any armchair revolutionary.
1. By far the best-known street artist worldwide, Banksy is notorious for his incisive, politically charged, and wryly funny stencils that have graced public spaces from his hometown of Bristol to Sydney, New York, the West Bank, and beyond—in addition to appearing in a variety of museums (both with and without permission). His works often take aim at subjects including police surveillance, terrorism, and government hypocrisy.
2. The popularity of Banksy’s work is credited with starting a wave of interest in graffiti as fine art that has since been termed “the Banksy effect,” buoying the careers of many of his fellow street artists even as his own pieces achieved ever-higher prices at auction. Always on the lookout for new ways to thumb his nose at the establishment, Banksy responded by anonymously selling his original paintings on the streets of New York for just $60 a pop.
3. This offset lithograph—signed on the plate by the artist himself—is a prime example of Banksy’s approach: taking a recurring motif in his stencils (a burning Molotov cocktail) and adding a label from Tesco, the ubiquitous and much-reviled U.K. grocery store chain, to create a pointed commentary on consumer culture and the commodification of dissent.
4. A consummate prankster, Banksy has orchestrated a number of actions around the world, including painting a live elephant as part of his 2006 show “Barely Legal,” creating a functional (if irreverently off-kilter) amusement park called Dismaland, and directing the Academy Award-nominated 2010 documentary on his work Exit Through the Gift Shop—all without ever revealing his true identity, which remains a mystery to this day. (Some now believe he is really Massive Attack's Robert del Naja.)