Celebrating a Career of Reappearance with Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts

by Flaunt Editorial Staff

BRUCE NAUMAN. “SLOW ANGLE WALK (BECKETT WALK)” (1968). STILLS FROM VIDEOTAPE, BLACK AND WHITE, SOUND, 60 MIN. COURTESY MOMA, NEW YORK.


From swastika-shaped neon signs containing references to masturbation, to assemblages of heads spouting water, to harrowing “clown torture” videos, Bruce Nauman’s 50-year career, which produced (according to the The New York Times), “...some of the most powerful, disturbing, and visceral work of the late 20th and early 21st century...” is unique, treading the delicate line between words and experience. He marries movement with inciting undertones, creating locomotion of both aesthetic pleasure and distaste, producing images that hum in a universal harmony, all the while exposing audiences to his often explicit, disturbing vision. His practices have been an invitation to both positive and critical stigma since the beginning of his artistic career, provoking viewers and posing uneasy questions.

Nauman roamed the country from the Midwest to the West Coast before finally settling in his present New Mexico homestead, where he now gathers his harnessed experiences and incorporates them into his sculptures and designs. His nomadic tendencies inspired the theme of his upcoming retrospective catalogue, published by MoMA ahead of a survey of his work presented in October, both of which are titled Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts. The catalogue will present a broad selection of his work, along with introductory essays examining Nauman’s recurring relocations and disappearances, and the ways that he has used isolation and seclusion as a form of enlightenment and artistic inspiration. The exhibition and the accompanying publication illuminate themes that have entered and exited the artist’s life, charting the evolution of his style and his unique ethical outlook.


Written by Leslie Gonzalez