Ocula Magazine Contents View All
Featured Content View All
The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at LACMA Ocula Report The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at LACMA 18 Jan 2019 : Perwana Nazif for Ocula

The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (9 December 2018–23 June 2019) is billed as the first comprehensive survey of Sri Lankan art organised by a U.S. museum, with around 240 works—including decorative objects, textiles, photographs, and historical works from the museum's own collection of Sri Lankan...

Read More
Ellen Pau Ocula Conversation Ellen Pau Artist

A radiographer by training, Ellen Pau is a self-taught artist who emerged from Hong Kong's fledgling contemporary art scene of the late 1980s, when video was a comparatively nascent medium. In 1986, Pau co-founded Videotage—a non-profit organisation that specialises in the promotion and preservation of video and new media art. Pau has an...

Read More
Singapore Art Week: Exhibitions to See Ocula Report Singapore Art Week: Exhibitions to See 18 Jan 2019 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

S.E.A. Focus, the new boutique art fair by STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, will take centre stage during this year's Singapore Art Week (19–27 January 2019). Running between 24 and 27 January 2019, 26 galleries will participate in the inaugural edition, showcasing modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art within a pop-up structure in...

Read More

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
Read More

Featured Artworks

View All (25)
Life Mask by Bruce Nauman contemporary artwork Bruce NaumanLife Mask, 1981 Lithograph on Arches Cover paper
28 x 38 inches
Krakow Witkin Gallery
Bruce Nauman: Leo Castelli Gallery by Bruce Nauman contemporary artwork Bruce NaumanBruce Nauman: Leo Castelli Gallery, 1968 Paperback cover, staple bound, offset printed, black-and white booklet. 12 pp.
11 x 8.5 inches
David Zwirner
Normal Desires by Bruce Nauman contemporary artwork Bruce NaumanNormal Desires, 1973 Lithograph on Copperplate Deluxe paper
24.38 x 35.38 inches
David Zwirner
Doe Fawn by Bruce Nauman contemporary artwork Bruce NaumanDoe Fawn, 1973 Lithograph on Roll Rives paper
32 x 44.88 inches
David Zwirner
Pay Attention by Bruce Nauman contemporary artwork Bruce NaumanPay Attention, 1973 Lithograph on Arjomari paper
38.25 x 28.25 inches
David Zwirner
Human Companionship, Human Drain by Bruce Nauman contemporary artwork Bruce NaumanHuman Companionship, Human Drain, 1981 Lithograph on Rives BFK White paper
30 x 22 inches
David Zwirner
Violent Incident (Man/Woman Segment) by Bruce Nauman contemporary artwork Bruce NaumanViolent Incident (Man/Woman Segment), 1986 Videotape, colour, sound, 30 min.
David Zwirner
ON ON ON ON / NO NO NO by Bruce Nauman contemporary artwork Bruce NaumanON ON ON ON / NO NO NO, 1995 Lenticular photo-postcard
3.5 x 5.5 inches
David Zwirner

Current & Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Metal at Simon Lee Gallery, London
Open Now
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
26 April–27 July 2018 Group Exhibition A Luta Continua Hauser & Wirth, 22nd Street, New York

Represented By

In Related Press

View All (16)
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
Julia Stoschek Collection celebrates 10 years with generation spanning video show Related Press Julia Stoschek Collection celebrates 10 years with generation spanning video show The Art Newspaper : 13 June 2017

Julia Stoschek opened her collection of time-based media art to the public ten years ago, and to celebrate the anniversary she has invited the British artist Ed Atkins to curate an exhibition from her holdings. Generation Loss: 10 Years of the Julia Stoschek Collection (until 10 July 2018) opened this week at Stoschek's Düsseldorf gallery.

Read More

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,...

Read More

Be the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by Bruce Nauman are added to Ocula.


Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

iCal Google Yahoo Outlook