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

  • Not on view

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.
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
© 2023 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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