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Kill for Peace from the portfolio Artists and Writers Protest Against the War in Viet Nam

© Carol Summers. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

Kill for Peace from the portfolio Artists and Writers Protest Against the War in Viet Nam

Artist: Carol Summers (born 1925)
Culture: American
Date: 1967
Medium: Screenprint on paper
Image/sheet: 23 1/2 × 19 1/4 inches (59.7 × 48.9 cm)
Mat: 34 × 26 inches (86.4 × 66 cm)
State: 81
Edition: 100
Classification: Print
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Dorsky
Label Text:Best known for his innovative woodblock prints, Carol Summers departed significantly from his established body of richly colored prints to create this potent political work. During the Vietnam War, Summers, together with other New York-based artists and writers, participated in a group show protesting the conflict’s atrocities and the United States’ involvement. This screenprint takes its title from a popular song by the rock band The Fugs, released in 1966, that also expresses anti-Vietnam War sentiments. The Fugs sing:

… If you don't like the people or the way that they talk,
If you don't like their manners or the way that they walk,
Kill, kill, kill for peace.
Kill, kill, kill for peace…

The protest song satirizes America’s combat policies and questions the legitimacy of the war itself. Summers integrates this message into his work by reproducing a popular image of a Vietnamese woman and her baby. Printed in black and white, the photo stands in stark contrast to the large red “X” placed on top, a comment on the soaring number of civilian casualties. The holes in the paper suggest actual bullet holes, while the “X” clearly indicates that Vietnamese women and children have become the war’s primary targets. Through such direct imagery, Summers mocks the hypocrisy of “killing for peace” and forces viewers to confront the slaughter of innocent lives overseas.

Object number: 1972.9.1