Bruce Nauman

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"Laair," 1970,

Bruce Nauman (born December 6, 1941, in Fort Wayne, Indiana) is a contemporary American artist. His practice spans a broad range of media including sculpture, photography, neon, video, drawing, printmaking, and performance.


Life and work

Nauman studied mathematics and physics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and art with William T. Wiley and Robert Arneson at the University of California, Davis. He worked as an assistant to Wayne Thiebaud, and in 1966 he became a teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1968 he met the singer and performance artist Meredith Monk and signed with the dealer Leo Castelli. In 1979, Nauman moved to New Mexico where he continues to work and live along with his wife, the painter Susan Rothenberg.

Much of his work is characterized by an interest in language, often manifesting itself in a playful, mischievous manner. For example, the neon Run From Fear- Fun From Rear, or the photograph Bound To Fail, which literalizes the title phrase and shows the artist's arms tied behind his back. There are however, very serious concerns at the heart of Nauman's practice. He seems to be fascinated by the nature of communication and language's inherent problems, as well as the role of the artist as supposed communicator and manipulator of visual symbols.

Nauman began in the 1960s with exhibitions at Nick Wilder’s gallery in Los Angeles and in New York at Leo Castelli in 1968 along with early solo shows at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum in 1972. Through most of his midcareer until the early 1980s he flew just below the radar of art market experts.[1]


In 1993, Nauman received the Wolf Prize in Arts (an Israeli award) for his distinguished work as a sculptor and his extraordinary contribution to twentieth-century art. In 1999, he received the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale. In 2004 he created his work Raw Materials specifically for display at the Tate Modern. ranked Nauman as the number one among living artist in 2006, followed by Gerhard Richter and Robert Rauschenberg.[2]

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