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Kids on Guns, 2003


Kids on Guns, 2003
Edition: 25
Spray-paint in colors on stretched canvas
50.8 x 50.8 cm (20×20 inches)
Stenciled “BANKSY” in red spray paint on the turnover edge
Signed, dated, and numbered /25 in black ink on the reverse of the stretcher

The simplicity and severity of the color contrasts in Kids on Guns gives it both beauty and deeper meaning, making it one of the artist’s most somber visuals. The viewer is immediately moved by the silhouettes of a young boy and a girl on top of a mountain made out of weapons. As they look at one another, she holds her red heart balloon as he holds a teddy bear. The appear to be find comfort and safety within each other, and there is hope that perhaps if adults could tap into and embracing the innocence and love children innately have for others, we might be able to overcome the current state of affairs that are marked by war, hatred, violence, and oppression.
On day 13 of Banksy’s residency in New-York, Better Out Than In, the artist set up a stall in Central Park where an unassuming trader sold his paintings to passing tourists. Film footage shows Banksy’s immediately recognizable black and white stenciled canvases stacked on a trestle table or suspended on the stall’s makeshift metal framework. Variations of Heavy Weaponry, Laugh Now and Love Is In the Air jostled for space with new works including one with a discount store label stencil announcing the price of each work as $60. The following day the event was documented on the artist’s website:

“Yesterday I set up a stall in the park selling 100% authentic original signed Banksy canvases. For $60 each.”

Kids on Guns, 2013
Stencil spray paint on canvas
45.5 x 45.5 cm (17 15/16 x 17 15/16 inches)
Signed and numbered CP/15 on the overlap
Bonhams London, 2 July 2014
GBP 68,500 / USD 96,920
The first paintings weren’t sold until 3.30pm when a lady acquired two for her children after first negotiating a 50% discount. The footage shows them being placed without protection in a blue plastic carrier bag. Kids on Guns and Winnie The Pooh,  were purchased together half an hour later by the present owner, a New Zealander, and the transaction was also captured on film. A further four works had sold by the end of the day generating the total sum of $420 for the artist. For the casual observer it must have been difficult to believe that the works were in fact genuine. The ubiquitous nature of the trader and stand, located in one of New York’s tourist hotspots, and the overall display of the works was a master stroke: a setting and presentation at odds with the hallowed white cube space of a gallery environment designed to lend artworks gravitas and, by association, added value. The fact that his paintings were original and were being offered at a tiny fraction of their true retail value raises real questions about the perception of worth and the nature of art as commodity within the marketplace, something that the artist must be acutely aware of. Banksy, the maverick artist embraced by the very same establishment he sets out to ridicule.


Banksy’s website was careful to add “Please note: This was a one off. The stall will not be there again today.” in order to avoid the dangerous sales scrum that would have resulted from the changed perception of these very same works. The whole exercise represents Banksy at his very best: the expression of a powerful statement executed in an ingenious manner with a knowing sense of humor, but also one that reveals a very human side to an anonymous artist struggling to come to terms with his runaway commercial success.

Auction Results

Kids on Guns only sold three times at auction since 2008. Last time it sold was at Bonhams London, on 17 April 2013, when it reached GBP 75,650 (USD 107,037).
Kids on Guns, 2003
Stencil spray paint on canvas
Signed in stencil on the turnover edge
Dated 2003 and numbered 4/25 on the reverse
Bonhams London: 17 April 2013
GBP 75,650 / USD 107,037