Banksy’s oil painting ‘Subject to Availability’ is set to be auctioned for Christie’s 20th-century sale. The 2009 piece is considered one of Banksy’s most important ‘vandalised’ oil paintings and could fetch between US$4 million to US$7 million. But why is this piece going for so much?
Well, the work itself is a rendition of Albert Bierstadt’s 1890 painting of Mount Rainier National Park. Banksy has used his whimsical style to deface the painting, adding in a commentary in asterisks referencing global warming on the bottom right corner saying ‘Subject to availability for a limited period’.
Regarding the absurd price tag, for one, it’s Banksy, probably the most renowned and recognised artist of the digital generation. His anonymity and poignant work mean that he appeals to a broad range of fans, even if we can’t all afford to own the pieces ourselves. Two, Bierstadt has often painted with environmental destruction in mind, focusing on the industrial revolution, so both their concerns align.
In a statement to Artnet, Christie’s co-head of postwar and contemporary art Katharine Arnold said “Banksy’s witty dialogue with the art historical canon brings the painting sharply into the current context of the global climate crisis”.
The piece is set to be auctioned off at Christie’s 20th-century sale in June 2021. The work is presented at Christie’s headquarters in London.