CND Soldiers Banksy
Find out more about Banksy’s ‘CND Soldiers’ series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
Probably Banksy’s most notorious anti-war work, CND Soldiers is a limited edition silkscreen print released by Pictures on Walls of London in 2005, in an edition of 350 signed, and 350 unsigned prints.
The image first appeared outside the Houses of Parliament during an anti-war protest led by Brian Haw, an English peace campaigner who lived for a decade in the Westminster peace camp. At the time the UK’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq war had been brought to light, and the fact that millions of people, including soldiers, protested against the invasion was reportedly ignored.
The work depicts two soldiers painted in the artist’s black and white stencil trademark style on a monochromatic background. Whilst one soldier holds a machine gun on lookout, the other is painting a large peace symbol in red paint – the only coloured element in the image. The satirical juxtaposition of soldiers and their guns alongside the iconic peace sign is intended to make the viewer question the army’s role of of ‘keeping the peace’.
Questioning the validity of the ‘nanny state’ is a central theme in Banksy’s work. The red peace sign originally symbolised the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) of 1957 and is now widely known as an international symbol of peace. Banksy’s inclusion of it here, painted in dripping red paint, overtly evokes the bloodshed of war. Further contrasts are drawn as the soldiers, who act on behalf of the government, are now represented as activists and vandals, graffitiing the wall in protest.
CND Soldiers is yet another artwork by Banksy which questions the grounds of authority, freedom and speech and highlights the media’s trivialization of warfare. Among other works that do the same are Applause, Bomb Hugger, Happy Choppers and Have a Nice Day.
Why is CND Soldiers important?
Banksy’s original mural was later removed by the authorities, but CND Soldiers was recreated for State Britain, in an installation at Tate Britain in 2007 by British artist Mark Wallinger which fully reproduced Brian Haw’s protest display. The same year Wallinger won the prestigious Turner Prize, and the judges praised the work, which incorporated Banksy’s imagery, for its ‘immediacy, visceral intensity and historic importance’, calling it ‘a bold political statement with art’s ability to articulate fundamental human truths’.
Why we love CND Soldiers… ‘This is Banksy at his best, taking a swipe at the view of war as a valuable means of upholding peace and democracy.’ - Joe Syer
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