At 76 years old, Bruce Nauman is widely acknowledged as a central figure in contemporary art whose stringent questioning of values such as good and bad remains urgent today. Throughout his 50-year career, he has explored how mutable experiences of time, space, sound, movement and language provide an insecure foundation for our understanding of our place in the world.
This richly illustrated catalog offers a comprehensive view of Nauman’s work in all mediums, spanning drawings across the decades; early fiberglass sculptures; sound environments; architecturally scaled, participatory constructions; rhythmically blinking neons; and the most recent 3D video that harks back to one of his earliest performances. A wide range of authors―curators, artists and historians of art, architecture and film―focus on topics that have been largely neglected, such as the architectural models that posit real or imaginary sites as models for ethical inquiry and mechanisms of control. An introductory essay explores Nauman’s many acts of disappearance, withdrawal and deflection as central formal and intellectual concerns. The 18 other contributions discuss individual objects or themes that persist throughout the artist’s career, including the first extensive essay on Nauman as a photographer and the first detailed treatment on the role of color in his work. A narrative exhibition history traces his reception, and features a number of rare or previously unpublished images.
Bruce Nauman was born in Indiana in 1941 and raised near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He studied math, music and physics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison before switching his major to visual art, and received an MA in sculpture from the University of California, Davis, in 1966. In 1979 he moved to New Mexico, where he continues to reside. Nauman’s work has been the subject of two previous retrospectives, in 1972 and 1994. In 2009 he represented the United States at the Venice Biennale, where he won the Golden Lion.