Bomb Love makes clear Banksy's anti-war stance, showing a child hugging a bomb—an image of both vulnerability and hope. First appearing in 2001, the iconic image has since been reproduced in various editions, cementing its timelessness.
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Bomb Love or Bomb Hugger is one of Banksy’s most prominent anti-war works. One of his early screenprints, it explores the dichotomy of love and war. Exploring a subject matter that the artist has made a number of works about, the first version of this image was created as a mural in East London in 2001, and is also featured in Banksy's book Banging your head against a Brick wall. A second version appeared in Brighton in 2003 and in 2005, Bomb Love was again featured in Banksy’s autobiographical book, Wall and Piece.
In 2003, Bomb Love, which shows a young girl hugging a large bomb as if it were a cuddly toy, was released as a limited edition of 150 signed screenprints along with 600 unsigned prints. Originally coming in a single colourway – fluorescent pink, Banksy has reproduced the image in many different formats over the years, including on canvas or on placards at anti-war protests.
A timeless Banksy print, it remains as poignant as ever. The bomb here, akin to those dropped from military aircrafts, is cumbersome in the child’s small arms, accentuating her small figure and evoking the fragility and innocence of childhood in contrast to the suggestion of violence.
The treatment of the child’s figure is reminiscent of other young characters created by Banksy like the famous Girl With Balloon painted in London in 2002.
Bomb Love © Banksy 2002
The original Bomb Love mural appeared in East London in 2001 as a black-and-white stencil that has become synonymous with Banksy’s name. Underneath was Banksy’s now-iconic tag. At the time, Banksy had yet to find notoriety as a street artist, but his work was beginning to get noticed (this 2003 Guardian review offers an amusing dose of nostalgia). In 2003, the same stencil of Bomb Love appeared on the streets of Brighton and Hamburg, Germany.
Bomb Hugger © Banksy 2003
Originally, Banksy named the work Bomb Love. But over time, the public adopted the name Bomb Hugger instead. Bomb Love more accurately reflects the message Banksy wanted to capture in the piece, but Bomb Hugger is arguably more provocative.
Love Is In The Air © Banksy, 2005
In May 2001, Banksy held an unofficial exhibition of his work in a tunnel on Rivington Street, London, following a bet with a group of friends.
He produced 12 stencils for the show, each one with an anti-war message, including monkeys with guns, bombs over Big Ben, army tanks next to playing children, and a version of the now-famous Love Is In The Air (flower thrower). Bomb Love appeared two years after the show, and Banksy would continue to return to this anti-war message in later murals and prints.
Happy Choppers © Banksy 2003