Banksy & The Military

As Told Through Four Prints
December 4, 2023
Banksy Silver Flags

Banksy's body of work consistently incorporates anti-war themes, and "CND Soldiers" is no exception to this pattern. Created in 2003, this piece made its debut outside the Houses of Parliament during an anti-war protest led by Brian Haw, who gained notoriety for residing in Parliament Square for over a decade. The timing of this artwork is crucial as it coincided with the UK's involvement in the Iraq War, which was facing strong opposition from the public, yet often disregarded by the government.

In 2005, "CND Soldiers" gained widespread recognition, leading Pictures on Walls to release a print edition with 350 signed and 350 unsigned copies—a departure from the usual Banksy practice, where signed and unsigned versions typically differ in edition size.

The work portrays two soldiers in the act of spray-painting a peace symbol on a wall. One soldier keeps watch while the other, holding a rifle, attentively paints the symbol in blood-red. This artwork showcases Banksy's signature subversive wit and humour, cleverly juxtaposing soldiers, typically associated with warfare and government orders, breaking ranks to engage in an act of rebellion and protest.


Banksy CND Soldiers Print meaning

Banksy's "Flags" series features a group of youths standing on a burnt-out car, hoisting the American flag. Clad in hoodies and streetwear, these young individuals appear forgotten, discarded, and disenfranchised. Their flag-raising gesture seems like a reclaiming of their territory, a stand to reclaim the streets and, symbolically, the world itself. As viewers, we ponder the fate of the car—was it part of an urban warzone or a vision of an apocalyptic future?

"Flag (Silver and Gold)" pays homage to the iconic photograph "Raising the Flag" by American photographer Joe Rosenthal, depicting six American soldiers raising the Stars and Stripes atop Mount Suribachi during World War II's Battle of Iwo Jima. The unsigned edition, limited to 1000 copies, is printed on silver Chromolux paper, giving it a mirrored, otherworldly quality reminiscent of the silver screen. The signed edition, limited to 112 copies, is printed on gold Chromolux paper, evoking the golden age of cinema with a film-like quality.


Banksy Gold Flags Print meaning

In "Have A Nice Day" Banksy portrays a line of 27 riot police flanking an armoured vehicle commonly used for controlling riots and protests. These officers, dressed in all-black riot gear, move forward in unison, facing the viewer. In an unexpected twist, their faces are replaced with the acid house smiley face, challenging and subverting our expectations. Is it intimidating, amusing, or both? Banksy's wit invites viewers to mock and criticise the establishment while questioning the authority bestowed upon figures of power and control. With smaller-than-average edition sizes, "Have a Nice Day" is a sought-after choice for collectors looking for a rare Banksy print with his trademark social commentary.


Banksy Have a Nice Day Print meaning

One of Banksy's early and recognisable works, "Golf Sale" was among his first prints to be released. This piece comes in a signed edition of just 150 and an unsigned edition of 600, officially labelled as an edition of 750 by Pest Control.

The print closely resembles the iconic 1989 photograph of the Tiananmen Square Tank Man, captured by Jeff Widener, which has since become a symbol of freedom and one of the 20th century's most famous images. This image is associated with the violent suppression of protests during the '89 Democracy Movement in China.

In Banksy's rendition, he recreates the scene in his distinctive stencil style. However, the protester standing in front of the tank now holds a sign that reads "Golf Sale," reminiscent of placard signs commonly seen in London's high streets and other city centres. True to Banksy's style, his biting wit and humour are immediately apparent. The piece delivers a clear anti-authoritarian message, critiquing both the state and capitalism. "Golf Sale" showcases Banksy at his best and most impactful.


Banksy Golf Sale Print Meaning

Explore our collection of Banksy signed prints for sale at Andipa Editions and contact our gallery via or call +44 (0)20 7589 2371 for further information.

About the author

Alex Yellop