The Nuclear Victim (Beach Girl), 1966

Catalogue number
  • Art.IWM ART 15091
Art and Popular Design
Display status
IWM London
Production date
Place made
Great Britain
Subject period
  • Support: window dresser's dummy and rubber
  • medium: hair
  • medium: wig
  • medium: cinders
  • medium: polyurethane paint
  • medium: face cast
  • medium: breast cast
  • medium: table tennis ball
  • medium: fibreglass
  • Support: Depth 580 mm, Height 280 mm, Width 1700 mm
  • Plinth: Height 30 mm, Length 1860 mm, Width 815 mm
Alternative names
  • object category: sculpture

Object description

whole: A life-size female figure sculpture. The body is covered in layers of cinders and black paint to represent burned flesh. The right arm is truncated to the elbow, the right leg is missing below the knee, implying that it has been blown or burned away. The left hand has peculiarly delicate fingers in comparison to the grotesque mass of the body.


'The Nuclear Victim (Beach Girl)' is an important sculpture emerging from the anxiety in the 1960's about the growing nuclear threat and the hardening of attitudes in the Cold War. The sculpture seeks to convey the horror of the bodily injury sustained at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The artist used a window-dresser's dummy as a base for the work, and a variety of modern media in the finished figure. The figure has an almost visceral effect on the viewer and carries the same chilling message as Self's drawing 'Guard Dog on a Missile Site' 1966, also in the Museum's collection (IWM ART 16100). Self's sculpture has a distinctive place in the history of 20th century art, coming out of British and American artists' concerns with anti-war protest during the 1960's.

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