Interview | Acoris Andipa on Banksy

Girl with Balloon (diptych) canvas, 2004/5, edition of 25, each panel is 30 x 30 cm.

Eric Block

Acoris Andipa on Banksy

The Andipa family have been recognised in the art world since 1593 but their venerability does not necessarily mean their art dealing is equally antiquated. Now located in Knightsbridge, London, they are recognised as specialists in the trade of Banksy works. As Banksy sales hit the news once more, Andipa Gallery are putting six works by Banksy up for sale. I had the opportunity to sit down with Acoris Andipa, director of the gallery, about the sale and just what Banksy means for the art world.

There is a big sale at Sotheby’s of the Girl with Balloon that was shredded in 2018, and you have five iterations of this work. To those not in the know, can you tell us what the difference is? If that one is more important than the ones you are selling?

The motif of Girl with Balloon has become one of the most recognisable artworks around the globe – the artist made various versions from 2003. Similar to Warhol, Banksy uses repetition. The former using screens and the latter uses stencils. He mostly repeats his artworks in editions: the diptych canvas of Girl with Balloon is an edition of twenty-five. One is coming up at Christies, another is here at Andipa. He made another version at the same time where both the girl and the balloon are on the same canvas, also an edition of twenty-five. Then prints in three distinct formats: signed, unsigned and special editions where the red balloon was replaced with various colours; the most sought after version being gold. Andipa has all these versions available for sale which is quite unique in the art world. Andipa is also known for being competitively priced – an example being the diptych painting is £3M GBP, whereas the estimate at Christie’s is £2.5M to £3.5M. Even at the lower estimate of £2.5M, once you add all the premiums and extras charged by the auction house, it exceeds the price payable at Andipa.

You’ve sold Banksys right from the very beginning, can you tell me when that began and what it was you saw in his work that you thought was of interest so early on?

I was first introduced to the artwork of Banksy in 2005 with an image entitled Kate. This was a humorous homage of Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe but replaced by Kate Moss. It was light-hearted and fun, especially as I was significantly dealing in artworks by Warhol. In early 2006 I came across another work by Banksy entitled Napalm, which shook me to look into this artist and want to become involved. The work depicts Ronald Macdonald and Mickey Mouse replacing two men holding a girl burnt by Napalm in the Vietnam War. The famous photograph taken by Nick Ut, a photojournalist working during the war. Banksy had captured something that at first made you chuckle until you recall the origin along with the pain within this famous image confronting emotions of innocence, war and children. The twenty-first century confronting war, capitalism and liberty. 

Who is the sort of person that buys works by Bansky at this level and is it trophy art and bought for an investment or do the owners genuinely love his artworks?

No doubt the buyers have mostly changed in profile. When I first got involved in 2006 it was for collectors of art. They didn’t know who Banksy was or what he stood for or anything beyond taking the image at face-value. It was a great and fun time selling a Banksy to my Picasso collectors who bought because they simply loved it. Never was there a discussion of investment. Now, sadly, that’s pretty much turned on its head with many buyers acquiring works in a commodified manner for investment purposes. Similarly, the press focus more on the value of the artwork than the content which is often about life and the ridiculous way we live today.

You’re considered the go-to gallery for Banksys in London. However, you have also been involved in the curation of a number of exhibitions showing the artist’s work internationally. Is this unusual for a dealer operating in the secondary market and why do you do it?

That’s easy to answer: it’s great to be involved in genuine museum exhibitions that give the public a chance to see the real artworks for themselves. Unlike the money-making pop-ups appearing around the world, ours are about exploring subjects such as war, capitalism and self-deception. We charge €8 to see 100+ paintings, sculptures, prints and objects compared with £30 to see posters and ephemera and be driven into a gift shop. We produce catalogues that are 200 pages + and filled with academic and critical essays exploring all sorts of social and artistic topics.

  If you had the opportunity to own any Banksy work of your own, which one would it be?

Goodness . . . either Kids on Guns or Napalm for the reasons I’ve explained above: the poignancy of life on earth and how we live our lives on it.

To learn more about Andipa Gallery and the works they have on offer, click here

Questions by Eric Block

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