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Art Basel in Hong Kong: Exhibitions to See Ocula Report Art Basel in Hong Kong: Exhibitions to See 23 Mar 2019 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

For those visiting during Art Basel in Hong Kong (29–31 March 2019), the smell of fresh paint may still be in the air at the latest heritage conservation project, The Mills, which opened on 16 March to encompass the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textiles (CHAT), joining the ranks with ex-prison complex Tai Kwun, along with Eaton HK—a retro...

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Firenze Lai Ocula Conversation Firenze Lai

Firenze Lai says that she knows her studio of a few hundred square feet intimately; from the textures of its surfaces to the way the breeze blows into the room. The spaces depicted in her paintings are equally intimate. When curators seem to be at a loss for words to discuss troubled times, fear of containment, and the feeling of being completely...

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Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber Ocula Report Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber 15 Mar 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...

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Bruce Nauman

b. 1941, USA

Bruce Nauman likes to work in isolation on his farm, removing himself from the buzzing chatter of city life and the art world. His practice is shaped by personal interests such as ethics, politics, the body and language. Although he works across a range of media such as video installation, performance, sculpture, neon and photography, he is known as a conceptual artist whose work often unsettles his audience, making them aware of their own physical bodies and beliefs. 

Nauman’s neon pieces—some of his most famous works—often explore the semantic possibilities and visual puns that occur when rearranging letters, such as Perfect Door/Perfect Odor/Perfect Rodo (1972) and Run from Fear, Fun from Rear (1972). Through this process of infusing satirical and absurd meaning into language, viewers begin to consider the role of semantics and the language of politics.  

However, Nauman’s meaning is not always discovered immediately—viewers must dig deep to gauge his intention. When successful, onlookers are rewarded with themes that are pertinent to the everyday and range from life and death to spirituality and ethics. For those who do not dig deeper and instead take Nauman’s work at face value, other issues regarding the artist’s intent and misrepresentation surface. This is what the artist wants to be considered. The processes of art-making and transformation and the question of art’s purpose become relevant factors. Nauman’s work also references extreme mental states: despair, glee, humiliation, humour and hostility, to name a few. 

Though Nauman’s work is associated with Minimalism, he does not conform to the fastidious finish and slickness often seen within the movement. Instead, his works seem crude or haphazard. Nauman also jumps between different media and style. This versatility has made Nauman all the more engaging and his work all the more challenging. For these reasons he is considered one of the most influential and prominent American artists today.  

Nauman spent his childhood moving around various Midwestern locations. He graduated in 1964 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a bachelor’s degree in science and a minor in painting. That year he gave up painting and began experimenting with sculpture and performance art and collaborating on film projects. In 1966, he received an MFA from the University of California, Davis. His teachers there were working in sculpture outside its norms of the time, leading him to question his understanding of art and critique prominent methods and styles. From this, Nauman came to understand art as less of a product and more of an activity—asserting that anything made in an artist's studio could be art. Capturing 'performed actions', between 1966 and 1970, he worked extensively with video, focusing on behavioural codes of the body that went on to influence the next generation of video artists. Shot in real time, he produced a number of these works between his two studios in San Francisco and Mill Valley, California. 

Jessica Douglas | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

Life Mask by Bruce Nauman contemporary artwork Bruce NaumanLife Mask, 1981 Lithograph on Arches Cover paper
28 x 38 inches
Krakow Witkin Gallery
Triangle by Bruce Nauman contemporary artwork Bruce NaumanTriangle, 1977–1986 Cast iron
27 x 500 x 433 cm
Simon Lee Gallery
Pearl Masque by Bruce Nauman contemporary artwork Bruce NaumanPearl Masque, 1981 One color lithograph on Arches 88 paper
28.62 x 37.62 inches
Krakow Witkin Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Metal at Simon Lee Gallery, London
Closed
17 January–23 February 2019 Group Exhibition Metal Simon Lee Gallery, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, A Luta Continua at Hauser & Wirth, New York
Closed
26 April–27 July 2018 Group Exhibition A Luta Continua Hauser & Wirth, 22nd Street, New York

Represented By

In Related Press

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How Artist Bruce Nauman Plays at the Edges of the Human Related Press How Artist Bruce Nauman Plays at the Edges of the Human Frieze : 13 February 2019

'My work', Bruce Nauman told Art in America in 1988, 'comes out of being frustrated about the human condition.' Black radical aesthetics and criticism prefigured my encounter with Disappearing Acts, the artist's retrospective survey at the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 in New York, which was first mounted at The Schaulager last summer in...

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Bruce Nauman at Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 Related Press Bruce Nauman at Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 Dore Bowen : 1 January 2019

Bruce Nauman provokes mixed emotions by creating situations rather than presenting figures for us to fear, pity, or empathize with. His artworks position us not as viewers but as participants, often unwilling. These situations vary in effect from pleasurable to nearly intolerable, as evidenced by the 170 works featured in the artist's mammoth...

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Among Things Related Press Among Things Art in America : 1 December 2018

EVERY ONCE IN a while I get an artwork stuck in my head. Bruce Nauman's A Cast of the Space Under My Chair (1965–68) was one such work. For years, while sketching new sculptures or gabbing in a studio visit, I would remember it, though I'll admit that for the first few years this happened, I didn't consistently remember who made it. I didn't pause...

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Your Guide to the Best Shows in Basel Related Press Your Guide to the Best Shows in Basel Frieze : 11 June 2018

Bruce Nauman, 'Disappearing Acts'Schaulager17 March – 26 AugustThe Schaulager enjoys immense resources; its founder, Maja Oeri, a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and a major donor to its collection, is honoured with a MoMA gallery in her name. Bruce Nauman's detailed survey exhibition, created in collaboration with that New York...

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In Related Video

A Luta Continua. The Sylvio Perlstein Collection Related Video & Audio A Luta Continua. The Sylvio Perlstein Collection Hauser & Wirth : 8 May 2018

Unfolding across all three floors of Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street, A Luta Continua is the first United States presentation of the Sylvio Perlstein Collection. Curated by David Rosenberg, the exhibition presents more than 360 works by some 250 artists. Among these are Josef Albers, Carl Andre, Diane Arbus, Hans Bellmer, André Breton,...

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