NEW YORK, NY.- Christies
New York announced Banksys Sunflowers from Petrol Station (estimate: $12,000,000- $18,000,000) from the collection of Sir Paul Smith will highlight Christies 21st Century Art Evening Sale on Tuesday, 9 November 2021. The painting, executed in 2005, will be exhibited in Christies Hong Kong galleries 7 12 October and in Christie's Los Angeles galleries 20 23 October before returning to New York, where it will be on view from 30 October 9 November ahead of the sale.
Katharine Arnold, Christies Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Europe, remarks: Following the record-breaking sale of Game Changer (2020) in March another major oil on canvas by Banksy we are delighted to offer Sunflowers from Petrol Station this November. Belonging to the legendary British designer, Sir Paul Smith, the work is an icon within Banksys oeuvre, capturing not only his facility as a painter but also the wry humour that he brings to bear upon global issues. Here, the sheer comedy of wilted flowers bought from a petrol station becomes a means of highlighting our relationship with art and the environment: both, he reminds us, are transient.
Sir Paul Smith remarks: What initially attracted me to Banksy was his confidence and clarity to communicate something exactly as it is, I was so impressed by his observations of what was happening in the world and that remains true of the work hes doing today. His political statements are completely on point, really profound, really brave and consistently delivered in a modern way. I was delighted to have the opportunity to be able to own a piece of his work and the Sunflower itself presents such a brilliantly unique way of thinking about things.
Sunflowers from Petrol Station was first exhibited in October 2005 as a part of Banksys highly celebrated exhibition, Crude Oils: A Gallery of Re-mixed Masterpieces, Vandalism and Vermin. The twelve-day show featured an important group of caricaturized art historical masterpieces by the artist, including works referencing Monets Japanese Bridge paintings, Edward Hoppers Nighthawks, and Warhols Marilyn, which features Kate Moss as a stand in for Marilyn Monroe. This was the artists first exhibition following the creation of his iconic mural on the West Bank barrier just two months prior, and his first major solo exhibition since Turf War in London in 2003. As recently as March of 2021, Christies London successfully sold another seminal Banksy oil painting, Game Changer, which achieved over four times its high estimate of £3.5 million to realize £16.8 millionthe current world auction record for the artist.
Sunflowers from Petrol Station is part of a limited group of Banksy works that belong in the realm of fine art objects as opposed to the street art editions for which he is best known. In this example, the artist presents a painterly and conceptual defacement of Van Gogh masterpiece, Sunflowers. As well as riffing on the comedy of wilted petrol station flowers a far cry from Van Goghs magnificent blooms the title implicates the pollution of both nature and culture at the hands of big corporations. Banksy wittily subverts the institutional reverence surrounding the art-historical canon while simultaneously alluding to issues of environmental damage: both key concerns within his practice. The reference to Van Gogh also calls upon the historical auction moment that took place at Christies London in 1987 when Van Goghs Sunflowers (1888) became the most expensive painting sold at auction at the time, realizing $39.9 million against an estimate of $15,000,000-$20,000,000tripling the previous world record for any artwork sold at auction. This landmark moment also served as a catalyst for another celebrated Banksy series, a group of prints entitled Morons, which the artist began in 2006.