The Banksy stencil painting of kissing policemen, first executed on a Brighton pub wall, has been selected as the most iconic British work of art in a poll of 1,000 artists. The “Exit Through The Gift Shop” graffiti artist’s work tops a list dominated by modern and contemporary British works selected by the UK artists as representative of their cultural heritage.
Other notable works include Antony Gormley’s sculpture Angel of the North in 1998, Lucian Freud’s 1995 reclining nude Benefits Supervisor Sleeping and Jamie Reid’s God Save the Queen, produced in 1977,as a design for a record sleeve and poster for Punk band The Sex Pistols. The Banksy is the only piece in the top six to date from before 1990.
The Independent reported, “Two other works in the top ten were by Young British Artists (YBA) Tracey Emin in fourth-place with My Bed and Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, which came sixth. Traditional Britain was not entirely overlooked. Turner came in seventh place with his 1839 oil painting The Fighting Temeraire, while Constable’s 19th-century masterpiece The Hay Wain came tenth. Some notable modern stars were absent from the higher reaches of the list, with Gilbert & George among those without a place in the top 15.
The poll was commissioned by The Other Art Fair in London, which runs for four days from 10 May and will give the public a rare chance to buy from artists rather than through dealers. Saying it was “nice to be in such august company,” in the upper echelons of the poll, Mr Gormley told The Independent that British artists could not avoid expressing their national identity through their work. “You are part of where you are.” The Other Art Fair runs for four days from May 10 and will give the public a chance to buy works direct from artists.