Banksy’s shredded Girl With Balloon goes on display in Germany
A Banksy work that was partially destroyed by a shredder hidden in its frame seconds after it sold at a Sotheby’s auction has gone on display in a German museum.
- Museum curators cut wires to a shredder which was hidden inside the artwork’s frame
- The device partially destroyed the painting after it was sold at auction
- Curators decided not to charge people to see the artwork, keeping in line with Banksy’s art philosophy
And while a waiting media pack was poised for the possibility of an encore to the prankster artist’s famous stunt, curators at the Frieder Burda Museum assured them it was not likely, with the shredder having been disabled.
“We opened up the frame and found the shredder machinery, the battery holders, the wires and satisfied ourselves that the batteries had been removed and the wires cut,” Museum director Henning Schaper said.
Banksy’s artwork now hangs in the museum in its partially destroyed state, shredded strips dangling from the bottom of the delinquent frame.
The work, auctioned by Sotheby’s as Girl With Balloon, depicts an image that was originally spray painted by Banksy on London’s Waterloo Bridge in 2002.
The moment the auctioneer’s gavel fell, a hidden mechanism inside the frame shredded half the work, which had just been sold more than a million pounds.
Banksy then officially renamed it Love is in the Bin.
“Some people think the auction house were in on it. They weren’t,” the artist said on Instagram.
The owner, an anonymous European art collector, agreed to go through with the purchase of the painting and loaned it to the museum for a month.
It’s the first time the work has appeared in a museum since it was shredded at the October auction, and is a huge coup for the gallery.
“We have to resist the temptation to display the picture like a trophy,” Mr Schaper said.
“That would definitely not be what the artist had in mind.
“We wanted to engage with his philosophy by hanging the art work where people don’t have to pay to get in, and can experience Banksy’s art and join us in a critical debate on developments on the art market.”
While the frame presented a risk to anxious museum curators, it is arguably the most important feature of the work.
Sotheby’s head of contemporary art in Europe Alex Branczik told The Art Newspaper Banky’s authentication board Pest Control insisted on keeping the painting in the frame when it went up for auction.
“Pest Control said very clearly: the frame is integral to the art work, which it was, just not in the sort of way that we thought,” Mr Branzcik said in October.
“The work was not completed until 9 something pm on Friday, 5 October.
“This is the art work that Banksy intended, it was designed to be like this.”
After the work was sold and then shredded, Banksy posted a “director’s cut” of the stunt, including footage recorded from inside the auction house.
The vision showed the artist’s team testing the remote-activated shredder, which was intended to destroy the piece entirely, rather than leave it partially intact.