When Particle embarked upon the endeavour of bringing masterpieces to the masses, we knew that our first acquisition and corresponding sale would need to be a decisive one. There was an urgency. An urgency in not only offering our community a work that held the power and prestige of a masterpiece— but also one that would align with our mission of “art for all” and art as an impetus for social change. 

Cue: Banksy. We break down why Banksy’s iconic Love is in the Air (2005) was chosen as the first masterpiece to undergo Particle's first particalization process.

Beyond an Artist: Bansky as a Phenomenon  

While his real name remains anonymous, the artist’s pseudonym Banksy is one we are sure you have heard before. You and most likely a stranger next to you, your neighbour, your boss, your teacher and your friends. Regardless of where you come from, your age, race, gender or social class, Banksy’s art has captured the attention and affection of all and has appealed to audiences beyond art aficionados alone. His universal appeal can be largely attributed to the wry, antiauthoritarian political, philosophical and self-referential commentary of his work. A critical commentary delivered through whimsical cartoon-like characters that akin to the act of illustrating his art on the streets for everyone to see, signifies his belief that art should be for everyone.

Banksy’s playful disposition and universal appeal can be traced back to his now-infamous pranks and his humorous renditions of some of the most famous masterpieces in the world. Acts that not only captured the attention and imagination of the world but also helped cement his position as one of the most controversial and decisive social commentators of our time. 

From littering Monet’s tranquil lily pond with abandoned shopping carts to wilting van Gogh's famously cheerful Sunflowers (1888) and replacing Warhol’s infamous diptych of Marylin Monroe with an image of Kate Moss; Banksy puts on display his profound knowledge of the western art historical canon and then cleverly subverts it. He provides a critical commentary for our current climates while appealing to our senses at the same time. 

Like his disruption of the historical and traditional art world, so too have his grand pranks garnered eye-catching headlines globally. From the surprise shredding of one of his most famous works, Girl with Balloon (2002), live at auction (which made history as the first-ever work of art to be made live at auction), to his humorous rendition of what is perhaps the most famous painting in the world, Mona Lisa Smile (1503-1506), mysteriously appearing on display in the home of the original at The Louvre. 

Top: from left to right; Banksy, Show me the Monet, 2005, Courtesy of Sotheby’s; 
Banksy, Kate Moss, 2005, Courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Bottom: from left to right; Banksy, Mona Lisa Smile, 2004, Courtesy of Sotheby’s.'Banksy; Love in the Bin, 2018, Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

These acts as well as the attention and recognition that came along with them have positioned Banksy as more than just an artist but something of a global phenomenon. 

Beyond this, Banksy's clever combination of social satire, subversion, irony and dark humour are used to address poignant and pertinent issues like; war globalization, exploitation, police brutality and the global refugee crisis, to name a few. His ability to create commentary surrounding seemingly dismal world issues through simplistic caricatures that inspire hope has had a notable appeal to the masses. This appeal has led to the artist being widely acknowledged as the most influential graffiti artist in history. His ability to convey the most complex of issues in the most palatable way has continued to democratize art for many. His impact on today’s visual culture is as undeniable as his appeal.

Disarming the Masses:

Banksy’s mastery of delivery is epitomized by Love is in the Air which is widely recognised as one of his most iconic works. The image first appeared as a mural on the West Bank Wall, the controversial barrier separating Palestine from Israel. Here, in an area characterized by its prevalent protests, Banksy would illustrate an image that has become a globally recognised symbol for peace.  

In his signature stencilled style, Banksy presents a black and white figure dressed in garments that one would typically associate with riot gear. Distinctly, a bandana covers the lower portion of the figure's face. In a typical stance belonging to a violent rioter the figure slings one arm back, taking aim with the other. He prepares to throw something at his opposition. Here is where Banksy disarms his viewers along with the figure’s opponent. Instead of brick or bomb, the protestor prepares to throw a bouquet of flowers. Notably, the flowers are the only area where the artist utilizes color, emphasizing their contrast and heightening their impact. 

This simple act of substitution powerfully signifies peace, beauty, hope and friendship. Instead of choosing to harm his opponent, Banksy’s rioter chooses peace. In his choice to illustrate this image of peace in an area characterised by conflict, Banksy amplifies his message. 

Banksy, Love Is In The Air, Bethlehem, Palestine, Courtesy of artsy.net.

Why Banksy?

Like Banksy, Particle hopes to bridge a divide. Not only the one that exists between the traditional art world and the emerging art x tech sector but also that which exists within the realm of fine art ownership. Particle’s mission is to leverage blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to radically change the way people own, collect, experience, and ultimately enjoy art. We also crucially see art as an impetus for social change and through fractional ownership’s democratization of fine art, we hope to not only create a movement but also a community, who along with us, will be a part of that change. 

For Particle Love is in the Air was the ideal choice for our first acquisition because it embodies the act of peaceful disruption of the status quo— a nuance that few besides Banksy could capture. Like Banksy’s rioter, we are not looking to destroy or challenge, in our case the traditional art sector, or market structure, but rather propose a peaceful, beautiful alternative. A new form of ownership, powered by new technologies that will build a wider community.

We believe in the power of blockchain technology to democratize the art-world and one facet of this is fractional ownership. With Particle anyone can own a piece of history and that piece connects you to a larger community. A community, which like your portion of the painting, comes together as a disparate part to form a beautiful whole.

Banksy’s iconic Love is in the Air becomes symbolic of our mission: to disrupt traditional art ownership, but with a shared sense of passion, community and, in many ways, a strong connection and affinity for the established art world.

For more information on the project or to own your next particle click here