412: Art prankster goes back in time (Monday 30 May 2005)

compiled by Rosa Tomrop-Hofmann

Banksy: artwork in situ at British Museum; image held here

That most excellent of art pranksters - depending on your point of view - has struck again.

Fake prehistoric rock art of a caveman pushing a shopping trolley remained undiscovered for three days at the British Museum in London the week before last. The hoax was played by British art prankster, Banksy, who has previously installed his work in galleries in London and New York.
The piece, installed on Monday 16 May, was captioned "early man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting grounds" and hung with double-sided sticky tape. The British Museum praised the display, saying it was "in keeping with the other exhibits."

It contained a short explanatory note. It read:

This finely preserved example of primitive art dates from the Post-Catatonic era.
The artist responsible is known to have created a substantial body of work across South East of England under the moniker Banksymus Maximus but little else is known about him.
Most art of this type has unfortunately not survived. The majority is destroyed by zealous municipal officials who fail to recognise the artistic merit and historical value of daubing on walls.

The museum only realised the prank when Banksy launched a competition on his website for people to have their photo taken beside the 'exhibit'.
Luckily for Banksy, the British Museum saw the funny side of things and the rock is currently "on loan from the British Museum" to the Outside Institute for the duration of Banksy's latest exhibition. The exhibit will be returned to the British Museum on 19 June and may become part of a permanent showcase.

More Banksy material here .