We’ve heard about ephemeral instant messages but ephemeral works of art? Especially one that has a self-destruct button that gets triggered after the masterpiece bags over a million dollars in an auction. In what has become the talk of the town in art circles, notorious yet anonymous street artist “Banksy” decided it would send an effective message about art, or his revolutionary spirit, if one of his most iconic works was shredded right before the unsuspecting public’s eyes and right after the hammer fell on what would have been a very lucrative auction.
On an Instagram post showing the incident, Banksy quotes Picasso as saying that “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge”. Whether that was his ulterior motive for this stunt (or statement), only the artist could tell. But he did mention that he prepared the shredding mechanism when he framed the masterpiece. In case it gets auctioned.
The work in question is that of a girl, spray painted in black on a white canvas, reaching out towards a bright red heart-shaped balloon. Banksy has been known for his street art, many of them revolving around political and social commentary, but this has been one of the most iconic. So iconic that Sotheby’s London was able to auction it for £1,042,000 ($1.4 million). Which was, of course, when a normal day turned into history in the making.
The frame apparently had a shredding machine built into it, lying in wait for years. Once the hammer fell, it started moving, shredding the canvas into dozens of strips. Like any magician, Banksy never says how he was able to pull it off. Given how the painting would have had to pass through security, and x-ray scans, it undoubtedly had a little help from the people in charge.