Helicopter from the series History

Media - 2017.41.8 - SAAM-2017.41.8_1 - 134097
Copied David Levinthal, Helicopter from the series History, 2014, inkjet print, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Donald Standford Rosenfeld, Jr., 2017.41.8, © 2014, David Levinthal

Artwork Details

Helicopter from the series History
Not on view
61 × 79 in. (154.9 × 200.7 cm)
© 2014, David Levinthal
Credit Line
Gift of Donald Standford Rosenfeld, Jr.
Mediums Description
inkjet print
  • Landscape — time — night
Object Number

Artwork Description

Levinthal began creating photographic references to the Vietnam War in 2010, spurred by the availability of a higher quality and number of toy replicas related to the conflict. Helicopter references the opening sequence from Francis Ford Coppola's iconic 1979 film Apocalypse Now, in which Huey helicopters fly in front of a massive napalm explosion. With just a few visual elements, Levinthal conjures a vivid and instantly recognizable picture of the Vietnam War.


Media - 2017.32.10 - SAAM-2017.32.10_1 - 133751
American Myth & Memory: David Levinthal Photographs 
June 7, 2019October 14, 2019
Populated with toy cowboys and cavalry, Barbie dolls and baseball players, David Levinthal’s photographs reference iconic images and events that shaped postwar American society. Despite their playful veneer, Levinthal’s images provide a lens through which to examine the myths and stereotypes lurking within our most beloved pastimes and enduring heroes. In doing so, Levinthal encourages us to consider the stories we tell about ourselves—what it means to be strong, beautiful, masculine, feminine, and ultimately, American.