Swedish Artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, of ‘Knotted Gun’ Fame, Dies at 81

Yoko Ono commissioned the sculpture as a tribute to John Lennon.

Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd posing with his statue in 1992 in Malmo, Sweden Photo: DRAGO PRVULOVIC/TT/AFP/Getty Images
Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd posing with his statue in 1992 in Malmo, Sweden
Photo: DRAGO PRVULOVIC/TT/AFP/Getty Images

The Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, who created the famous “knotted gun” sculpture Non-Violence in 1985, has died at the age of 81.

Daniel Birnbaum, director of Moderna Museet Stockholm, said Reuterswärd had played a key role in establishing modern art in Sweden, BBC reports.

Reuterswärd, who died in hospital in Helsingborg in southern Sweden on Tuesday evening, had suffered a stroke in 1989, after which he had to learn to draw with his left hand to be able to continue making art.

After the tragic shooting of Lennon in 1980, Yoko Ono asked Reuterswärd to create a tribute to him and his vision of, and campaign for, world peace.

People laid flowers at the sculpture which has come to symbolise non violence after the Paris attacks Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images

People laid flowers at the sculpture which has come to symbolise non violence after the Paris attacks
Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images

The result—a Colt Magnum revolver with its barrel twisted into a knot rendering it impossible to use—has become a universal anti-war symbol. The image often appears in art, political satirical cartoons, and as a logo.

Reuterswärd, a friend of Lennon’s, is best remembered for the sculpture, which was gifted by the government of Luxembourg to the UN in 1988.

The work now sits outside the UN headquarters in New York, with a further 17 versions of the sculpture situated around the world. Ten are located in Sweden, with others are installed in China, Luxembourg, and France.

Reuterswärd attended the Fernand Léger art school in Paris, the city where held his first exhibition in 1952, aged just 18. Following this success, he returned to his native Sweden and studied at the art academy in Stockholm from 1952 to 1955.

Reuterswärd, who also published poetry and avant-garde writing, went on to become an key member of the art world in Sweden and will no doubt be sorely missed.


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