A Closer Look: Sale Ends Today by Banksy

Banksy is arguably the most famous street artist today. We see works by Banksy all around the world in his distinctive style, however, their identity is still a mystery.

From the famous street artist Banksy, Sale Ends Today is a unique and signed oil painting on canvas. Banksy exhibited the artwork in his show Barely Legal in 2006, Los Angeles.

Sale Ends Today, also known as the Sale Ends, is a large-scale stencil painting featuring 4 black and white high-contrast female figures ‘praising’ the red sign that reads “Sale Ends Today” where the piece gets its name. Sale Ends measures 213,4 x 426,7 cm.

The original Sale Ends Today painting was sold at Christie’s Hong-Kong (24 May 2021) auction for more than 6 million dollars.

Banksy presented the work as the large oil on canvas painting as well as a series of limited edition prints. Some of which were numbered, and signed.

Sale Ends Today prints have two versions today by Banksy. One made in 2006, the other in 2017 with slightly different figures on the painting.

The Meaning Behind Sale Ends Today (2006)

On an enormous white canvas, Sale Ends Today is challenging the viewers to reflect on capitalism and consumerism by making connections by depicting worshiping a “sale”.

The artwork has dramatic and theatrical figures who are praying, kneeling, feeling sick, depressed in front of the red sign that reads Sale Ends Today. Banksy uses the power of religion in this secular modern phenomenon. 

One of these mourning women has her hands together, looking up towards god, most likely asking for an extended sale because Sale Ends Today!

These female figures were taken and inspired from the classical depictions of religious events such as the crucifixion of Christ. Using a Catholic imagery in this manner, shows the contrast between old and new, as well as the sacred and material

As many artworks by Banksy critique the on-going cultural and global issues such as consumerism, politics, police brutality, climate change, and even Brexit, Sale Ends Today comments on our, the consumers, religious devotion to this manner. 

The Los Angeles Barely Legal Show (2006)

Los Angeles Barely Legal Show - 2006

Barely Legal was a show held by Banksy in Los Angeles in the year 2006. The show was in an industrial warehouse where you could see a variety of artworks by Banksy including the Sale Ends Today

The show was focused on the above mentioned contemporary issues the world faces today.

Another artwork by Banksy in the show was a real elephant which was painted matching colors and patterns with the walls of the room it was in. It was painted to become ‘invisible’. The purpose was to bring attention to the idiom “elephant in the room”. The elephant in the room represents how most people stay quiet and act like they do not see the obvious problems of the world, like poverty.

The Limited Editions Versions of Sale Ends Today by Banksy

Banksy Sales Ends Today - V2

In 2006, Barely Legal set had prints other than Sale Ends which were Festival, Grannies, Applause, Trolleys, and Morons

The limited edition Sale Ends prints from the Barely Legal set were sold at the show. They were intended to be printed 500 pieces, and were numbered out of 500 accordingly, however, originally it was printed as an edition of 100 unsigned prints.

After 11 years, the second version of the Sale Ends (2017) came to life as prints, visually slightly different with an additional figure.

The second version was published by Picture on Walls and this time they had published 500 signed pieces.

Sale Ends Today: Version 1 vs Version 2

In 2017, Banksy made another version of the same artwork with the same message, this time with five figures mourning for the end of the sale rather than four, three of which are male.

Sale Ends Today V2 was printed and signed out of 500 pieces and it measures 56x76 cm (22x30 inches) in its dimensions.

The main differences are the male figures, however, the details on the cloaks differ between these two versions.

Sale Ends Today (Version 2) has figures with cloaks that are extremely detailed whereas the contrast is not as high as the 2006 version.

Even though the work criticizes the materialistic world with mourning figures around the same big red sign, praising capitalism by gestures from the Biblical events such as fixing a sale sign in the place of Jesus.

With a balanced satire in his works, Banksy depicts, in all the Sale Ends Today versions, the way materialistic society worships the sales on the market where people are encouraged to consume goods that are, most of the time, not necessarily needed.