Banksy and the tradition of destroying art

The British street artist has joined a tradition of visual artists, including Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia, whose work critiques the very art world of which they were part.
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‘Girl With a Balloon’ was renamed ‘Love Is in the Bin,’ after it self-destructed at a Sotheby’s auction on Oct. 5. Image: Sotheby’s

When the British street artist Banksy shredded his “Girl With Balloon” after it was purchased for US$1.4 million at Sotheby’s, did he know how the art world would react?

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Preminda Jacob
About the Author
Preminda Jacob is Associate Professor of Art History and Museum Studies, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr Jacob is an art historian of modern and contemporary art, specializing in the social and political aspects of public visual culture and on the history and theory of the art museum. Her book, "Celluloid Deities: The Visual Culture of Cinema and Politics in South India," was published by Lexington Books, a division of Rowman and Littlefield publishers in 2009. The book has an accompanying website – – that features over 300 photos and three videos. Dr. Jacob has published several articles, including "Between Modernism and Modernization: Locating Modernity in South Asian Art" in Art Journal (1999). A book chapter titled "Tamil Cinema in the Public Sphere: The Evolving Art of Banner Advertisements in Chennai," was published in "The Cultural Politics of India’s Other Industry," edited by Selvaraj Velayutham, Routledge, 2008. Dr. Jacob has received three fellowships to support her research, including a J. Paul Getty Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the History of Art and the Humanities, a Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship from the Center for Media, Culture and History at New York University, and a Provost’s Research Fellowship from UMBC. Dr. Jacob holds a Ph.D. in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was educated in India and the U.S.
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