Bruce Nauman. Punch and Judy II Birth & Life & Sex & Death. 1985

Bruce Nauman

Punch and Judy II Birth & Life & Sex & Death


Not on view
Gouache and pencil on paper
75 1/2 x 72 1/2" (191.8 x 184.2 cm)
Gift of Werner and Elaine Dannheisser
Object number
© 2015 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Drawings and Prints
This work is not on view.
Bruce Nauman has 78 works online.
There are 9,602 drawings online.

In this drawing Nauman has recast the traditional clown puppets, known for their slapstick antics, as a naked couple simultaneously committing acts of sex and violence on each other and on themselves. The clown, whom Nauman has described as “an abstracted idea of a person,” frequently appears in his work of the 1980s, both provoking humor—often cruel or crude—and evoking horror. Here the actions of intertwined figures, drawn in simple, boldly colored lines, perversely suggest that violence is a current cycling through birth, life, sex, and death. This drawing relates to a series of flashing neon works Nauman made in the same year, with similar themes and figures.

Gallery label from 2012

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053;; Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124;;

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information, or have spotted an error, please send feedback to