Banksy's "Vandalised" Painting Highlighting Climate Change Leads Christie's June 2021 Auction
A Banksy artwork titled Subject to Availability is set to be one of the highlights of Christie's upcoming June 2021 sale auction in London, and is currently on view at the Off the Wall: Basquiat to Bansky exhibition. The notorious British street artist hijacked an 1890 painting of Mount Rainer in Seattle by German-American artist, Albert Bierstadt.
He added an asterisk on the top of the dormant volcano at the centre of the painting and captioned it with "subject to availability for a limited period only" at the bottom. The witty, satirical painting is part of his series of vandalised oil paintings and is estimated to fetch US$4–6.9 million.
The caption refers to the mountain's glaciers which are melting at six times the historic rate, hence, are only available for a "limited period". Because of this, researchers have been visiting Mount Rainer to study the climate crisis that will potentially destroy the habitat of plants and animals that live near the mountain. "Banksy’s witty dialogue with the art historical canon brings the painting sharply into the current context of the global climate crisis," says Katharine Arnold, Christie's co-head of postwar and contemporary art to Artnet News.
Both the original painter, Bierstadt and Banksy share the same concerns about climate change. Bierstadt railed against the industrial revolution's destruction of nature during his time. Over a century later, the contemporary street artist updated the political commentary of his forebear: an idyllic park reduced to a fleeting commodity. The work was included in Banksy's exhibition, Banksy versus Bristol Museum where he secretly inserted over 100 of his works into the gallery's permanent collection displays.
The painting holds a mirror up to society's self-destructive tendencies and like many of Banksy's other paintings, critiques a social issue or bring attention to issues happening in the world. This "vandalised" work is hauntingly prophetic as in February 2020, Mount Rainer National park was closed indefinitely due to extreme flooding and mudslides.
Other than Bansky's painting, other works by prominent artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, Kaws, Keith Haring and Os Gemeos will also be on display at Christie's headquarters in London until May 7 as part of the Off the Wall: Basquiat to Banksy. The private-selling exhibition showcases the contemporary explosion of street art and graffiti, charting a course through post-punk New York, millennial Britain and beyond.
For more information on the upcoming auction, please visit the official website.