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Banksy’s Insane Self-Shredding Painting Is Gone But the Memes Live Forever

2 minute read

Leave it to Banksy, master stunt artist, to not only get the world’s attention at an auction — but then make sure that his work is remembered in the form of viral memes.

Last week, the anonymous artist best known for his arresting street art installations shocked the world (and one very unfortunate art buyer) when a piece titled “Girl With Red Balloon” that sold for $1.4 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London immediately began shredding itself upon purchase, the art slipping through the bottom of the frame and appearing below in neatly destroyed ribbons.

While Banksy may have intended his guerrilla approach to the sale to be a dark commentary on capitalism, the stunt has only had the opposite effect: not only is his painting now more valuable than ever, but of course brands are getting in on the fun, creating their own “self-shredding” memes to play off of the pop culture moment. (Normal people are having fun with the meme, too, of course.) Looks like whatever Banksy does will have an afterlife — even if the intention is to destroy, not create. (In his Instagram post about the moment, the artist quoted Picasso: “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”)

This begs the question: is shredded art now all the rage? It just might be. Check out some of the memes:

There are some other meme-ified takes on the art stunt, too.

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Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com