Clown and Helicopter

Nancy Spero

Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 1926 - New York, USA, 2009
  • Series: 
    The War Series
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Ink and gouache on paper
  • Dimensions: 
    61 x 91,4 cm
  • Category: 
    Work on paper, Drawing
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

Between 1966 and 1970, Nancy Spero worked on The War Series, which includes three works held by the Museo Reina Sofía. These are: Clown and Helicopter, 1967; Bomb Shitting, 1966; and Helicopter, Pilot, Victim, Christ, 1968. Spero stated that this group of works was made to act as manifestos against the Vietnam War, denouncing the escalation in violence that resulted in the war. During this period, her political commitment became the focus of her artistic work. Spero abandons the use of oil on canvas, deliberately choosing paper for the picture surface. She begins to work exclusively in gouache and ink, which she rubs on large sheets of crumpled paper. This allows her to paint much more rapidly, producing what she describes as “angry works, often scatological, manifestos against a senseless obscene war, a war my sons could have been called up for, though they were very young. These works were exorcisms to keep the war away.” The War Series is made up of one hundred and fifty pieces whose imagery is filled with bombs, serpents, fire, tongues, swastikas, atomic mushroom clouds and especially, what for Spero represents the symbol of the war: anthropomorphic helicopters that become birds sowing destruction. Throughout her entire extensive body of work, Spero maintains her radical pacifist and feminist position, remaining committed to a political, social and cultural scene in which she questions and challenges by means of work conceived as a way of doing and acting in the world.