Balloon Girl, or Girl With Balloon, is one of Banksy’s most notable works. This official unsigned print is a limited edition of 600 and demonstrates the graffiti stencil technique Banksy has become renowned for the world over.
This Banksy print is perhaps one of the most sought-after images for collectors, old and new.
The work depicts a young girl, whose hair and dress are blowing in the wind, reaching for a red, heart-shaped balloon that has slipped from her grasp and is flying out of reach.
The red balloon is an archetypal symbol many of us connect with; and the picture, depending on whether you see the girl as losing the balloon, or about to catch it, can be viewed as a loss of innocence, or the arrival of hope. The heart-shaped balloon has been recognised as a symbol for dreams, aspirations, childhood innocence, whilst the heart shape may simply stand for love, hope, or joy.
This work, which was accompanied by a quotation that read, ‘there is always hope’ originally appeared in London’s Southbank; though the city council ordered the work to be painted over. Girl With Balloon has grown to become one of Banksy’s most iconic works.
Voted the UK’s most favourite piece of art in 2017, Girl with a Balloon became the subject of the most talked about public art stunt in history the following year, when it self-destructed in front of the entire auction saleroom, as the hammer came down on a final £1.4 million bid at Sotheby’s Evening Sale. Banksy posted an image of the work shredding itself on his own Instagram feed the same day, with the caption: ‘Going, going, gone … ‘.
Pest Control, Banksy’s only authentication body, gave the work a new title, Love is in the Bin. The buyer of the work, a female European collector, proceeded with her purchase, commenting, “When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realise that I would end up with my own piece of art history.”
Perfectly reflected in the work’s enduring appeal with both high end collectors, and the general public, it seems Girl with a Balloon resonates across the board. Even Justin Bieber got a tattoo, seemingly meant to replicate the work, on his right arm. When Bieber posted his new ink on his social media account Banksy’s fans quickly called for it to be ‘amputated under copyright law’, the comment received over 2,500 ‘likes’.