Focusing on a selection of works from the first two decades of the artist’s career, this exhibition presents selections in neon and various print media by Bruce Nauman from the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Highlights include Holograms, a suite of five screenprints from 1970 in which the artist’s represents his own face being pulled and squeezed in various contortions. The physical manipulation of the body is a theme that runs throughout Nauman’s work. A neon piece, Double Poke in the Eye of 1985, presents a similar idea of hand-to-face aggression. In this work, two heads and four hands alternatively light as they poke one another in the eye. Another work of 1988 relates to Nauman’s Clown Torture series.
Two of Nauman’s most celebrated word pieces are on display. Raw War of 1971 and Pay Attention of 1973 present words as the depicted objects in the picture. Our reading of the words is challenged by their backwards presentation, which simultaneously emphasizes and diminishes their aggressive meanings. The stark black-and-white of Pay Attention and the visceral red-on-black of Raw War reinforce the information presented in the words themselves.
Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1941, Nauman has been recognized since the early 1970’s as one of the most innovative artists of his generation. Working in such diverse media as neon, video, performance, sculpture, photography, and printmaking, Nauman’s work is characterized by an interest in the problems of language and communication. He currently lives and works in New Mexico.