Banksy’s “Gleaners”

Banksy, untitled, appropriation of Millet’s “The Gleaners” mixed media.


Banksy is probably the trendiest artist out there right now – I wasn’t sure how to approach posting about him. While he is no doubt skilled technically, it is his wit & social puns that makes him so sought after. He joins the ranks of artists questioning the meaning & context of art – albeit illegally. What I like about this piece is Banksy’s nod to the more ‘traditional’ art world. This is actually a reproduction of Jean-Francois Millet’s painting “The Gleaners,” a work actually considered controversial in its day. Millet represents the plight of the lower class with a sympathetic tone. Gleaner’s were the poor who were allowed to pick up the remaining wheat after the harvest. Here, Banksy takes Millet’s objective one step further, letting the characters escape the limits of the canvas and escape the limited interpretation that goes along with the static quality of an image. Further, by ‘cutting’ another artists work – he is appropriating it as his own – giving his work power over Millets. It also reminds us that these characters can have an existence outside of the frame – and we can consider who they might be in a whole new way.


4 thoughts on “Banksy’s “Gleaners”

      1. Yes, that’s true. But what I meant was that VG actually copied this very painting (along with a dozen of others) by Millet, but he introduced minor but important changes to it – not as dramatic as Banksy did though )

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