Bruce Nauman
USA, 1941
After studying at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Bruce Nauman transferred to the University of California in Davis, where he completed a postgraduate degree in 1966. Defining Nauman’s work as belonging to one specific movement is difficult. His references point to the Dadaist work of Man Ray, the theatre of Samuel Beckett, as well as various movements of the sixties and seventies including Minimalism, Conceptualism and Body Art. In addition, he works in a wide variety of media: drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, photography, film and video—to name a few—often complemented by the use of written or spoken text. The presence of a more or less explicit, progressive, political and ethical stance is a constant in his work, along with the questioning of the artist’s role as yet another social actor. In his early work, dating from the period 1965 to 1972, Nauman essentially reflected on his own position and attitude towards reality in pieces that combine equal amounts of idealism and ironic distance. During this time, Nauman often appeared in his own work, using his own image, the imprint left by his body on different media or through the presence of his name and signature. In 1973, he began producing far less work—coinciding, paradoxically, with the early recognition of his work, particularly in Europe—while simultaneously moving beyond exclusively personal themes to engage in social commentary. During this period, he produced several sculptures and installations with architectural references, such as his series of corridors, which produce a sense of discomfort in the spectator, mirroring the anxiety and frustration he himself was feeling at the time. Around 1980, his work became even more overtly political and denounced the violence of totalitarian regimes in Latin America and South Africa. Over subsequent decades, Nauman became an indisputable reference for entire generations of artists, and his work earned widespread recognition in the United States. His work took on an aggressive view that filled his videos and sculptures with tormented characters. He has lived in New Mexico since 1979, opting for a secluded life far removed from the major art capitals.
Ferran Barenblit