She graces throw pillows and mugs, the walls of dorm rooms and hostels, and Justin Bieber’s right forearm. Banky’s ubiquitous “Balloon Girl” is clearly beloved by many — so beloved, in fact, that it’s been voted Britain’s favorite work of art.
As BBC reported, the image of the girl reaching for a heart-shaped balloon beat masterpieces including John Constable’s “The Hay Wain” (1821), J. M. W. Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire” (1938), and David Hockney’s “A Bigger Splash” (1967) for the top spot. But before you mourn what some might describe as the United Kingdom’s dearth of taste, take note that this survey was commissioned by Samsung to promote a new television that doubles as a digital frame — and that it only involved 2,000 people (less than 0.003% of the nation’s population).
Still, you have to wonder what compelled the majority of those voters to choose the iconic piece of street art over the other options, which included 20 British artworks selected by “arts editors and writers,” according to the BBC. “Balloon Girl,” which was originally painted outside a Shoreditch shop in 2002, is the only example of street art on the list, but it’s also the most widely appropriated of the lot, and therefore one of the most recognizable.
Unfortunately, as this appears to be a simple poll — Samsung, unsurprisingly, does not share its methodology — we may never really know why this select pool of people snubbed traditional paintings for the Banksy. The survey also provoked a lot of people, and many Brits are pissed at or embarrassed by their fellow countrymen. The whole thing has now birthed greater conversations about what the nation’s dearest artwork should be.
Forgive me for quoting Jonathan Jones, but as The Guardian critic described the poll’s outcome, “That’s proof of our stupidity.” At least Banksy beat Anish Kapoor’s “ArcelorMittal Orbit.”
The full results of the poll are as follows:
- Banksy, “Balloon Girl”
- John Constable, “The Hay Wain”
- Jack Vettriano, “The Singing Butler”
- JMW Turner, “The Fighting Temeraire”
- Antony Gormley, “The Angel of the North”
- L S Lowry, “Going to the Match”
- John William Waterhouse, “The Lady of Shalott”
- Peter Blake, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover
- Hipgnosis and George Hardie, Dark Side of the Moon album cover
- George Stubbs, “Mares and Foals”
- Thomas Gainsborough, “Mr and Mrs Andrews”
- John Everett Millais, “Ophelia”
- Andy Goldsworthy, “Balanced Rock Misty”
- David Hockney, “A Bigger Splash”
- Bridget Riley, “Movement in Squares”
- Anish Kapoor, “ArcelorMittal Orbit”
- Stik, “A Couple Hold Hands in the Street”
- Maggi Hambling, “Scallop”
- Henry Moore, “Reclining Figure”
- Jamie Reid, Never Mind the Bollocks album cover