Bruce Nauman

Bruce nauman self portrait as fountain 1966

° 1941

Born in Fort Wayne (Indiana) (US), lives in New Mexico (US).

Bruce Nauman (°1941) is often referred to as one of the founding figures of contemporary art. He is the eternal novice, leaping from one type of media and technique to the other, time and again, in this way escaping the categorisations and generalisations inherent to certain generations of artists and their artistic movements.

In 1965 he forsook painting to create his first objects: various T-shapes in glass fibre intended to be associated with the movements of the body. Nauman comments: “These are not just forms to be looked at; these are the shapes of my body, which alone are sufficient to justify their existence.” In smashing the boundaries of sculpture that characterise it as “merely a form to be looked at”, he already places himself far beyond the practice of other artists at the time. This artistic feat is what makes him a worthy and important pioneer of conceptual art. He is also famous for the saying: “You don't have to look at a box - all you have to do is think about it.” 

Nauman sought to understand what it means to be an artist, which led him, for example, to film himself in his studio towards the end of the sixties. At the same time, his film was also a first step towards what later would become an art form itself, that is, the option of capturing things on their own, without an accompanying script or story, assisted by new media. And yet, the narrative, literary, and especially the verbal are important in his work. For instance, his neon objects made up of words.

Art is what the artists does in the studio. Once he arrives at this elementary yet utterly all-encompassing conclusion, art seemed more to him an activity than a product. Nauman concentrates less on developing a style than on the way in which a process or activity may be transformed into a work of art. For that reason he sees the artistic practice as something that consists of “exploring the possibilities of what art could be”, instead of “adding a work of art to a collection”.

Nauman's work consists of performance, sculptures, environments, photography, film, holograms, lithographs, prints, books and drawings, comprehensive neon projects and video installations.

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