Banksy Happy Choppers Screenprint

Happy Choppers Banksy

Banksy’s Happy Choppers screenprint was released in 2003 as an edition of 750 pieces. There are precisely 600 unsigned prints, 150 signed prints among which 33 signed Artist proofs. Happy Choppers was created on the occasion of Santa’s Ghetto, a Christmastime art exhibition launched by Banksy in order to draw attention on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the poverty of the West Bank. Before being released as a screenprint, Happy Choppers first appeared in 2002 as a sprayed mural in Central London at the Whitecross Street Market. Banksy also used the image on canvas.

Happy Choppers depicts a squadron of armed military with a bright blue sky in the background. The sky, painted with white clouds, is quite simplistic and cartoon-like, almost reminiscent of The Simpsons opening credits. On the other hand, the helicopters are painted with more details insisting on their war equipment which accentuates the danger of the situation. The lead « chopper » (American slang for a helicopter which became popular during the Korean War) is dressed in a girly pink bow.

The composition showcases an association of typically contradictory elements, that is to say the violence of warfare and the innocence of childhood. Banksy remarkable accurate rendition of helicopters makes clear the reference to war but the use of the pink bow on the fighter aircraft mocks masculinity and militarism while it also highlights their inherent menace.

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