Strongly believed to be the first commercial print, Banksy Rude Copper is dated around 2002 and was originally created in the form of an edition that numbered 250 unsigned prints. Alongside this edition, and in the same year, Banksy also produced some hand-finished and signed prints, which numbered 30. Its first street manifestation was in London and featured two police officers, while the prints only feature a single police officer. Rude Copper is also from the earliest period of Banksy’s work and a version of it was recently auctioned for 32K in British pounds.
Rude Copper is quite appropriately titled, as it is perhaps the ‘rudest’ and most invasive of Banksy’s pieces. Banksy brings to us with a rather dominating feel (almost as if we are about to be attacked), two policemen who are sticking up a finger to the viewer in the most unapologetic way possible while displaying somewhat soft and quiet facial features which don’t really go with aggression and more with teen rebellion. The fists of the police officers are larger in proportion to the rest of their body, which seem to give a feel of visual depth to the piece and enhancing the effect of the gestures they are making with their fingers.
The first interesting element to be noticed when understanding Rude Copper is the almost paradoxical idea of an authority figure making an anti-authority statement while in their role of being the very establishment or power structure towards which rebellion is expected. A youth from the punk sub-culture making the devil-may-care and rude gesture could be just as loud and forceful an image, Banksy could even paint it, but to see the anarchist sentiment exhibited by a police officer becomes an artistically novel idea. This juxtaposition, which is typical of Banksy, is further enhanced by the baby face quality of the copper.
Banksy, once again, is stepping beyond and takes us with him in this leap beyond set narratives and our own cultural or political fixations. Why can’t a police officer be defiant and most of all, exhibit his defiance so boldly?
Banksy could also be inviting us to empathize with a character that is the everyday face of authority or its pawn, but not the naked punch or puller of strings in the sense of military generals or corporate executives. Perhaps the rude copper are fed up with the system as much as we are and want to express this frustration, while ironically being still in their uniforms, which they wear due to the economic reality of capitalism.
Specialists in Banksy prints and urban art, Contemporary Art Trader can help you find your very own, authentic Rude Copper, signed or unsigned. For any queries you may have, contact us today.