Arts & Culture

Bruce Nauman: Brief outline of the artistic journey of a talented artist 

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From Sept. 5, 2022 to Feb. 26, 2023, a temporary art exhibition titled “BRUCE NAUMAN. Neons Corridors Rooms.” will be held in Milan at Hangar Biccocca, in collaboration with Tate Modern, London and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Do you like contemporary art and want to know more about Bruce Nauman? this article is for you… and maybe after reading it, you will decide to immerse yourself in the neons and installations of this revolutionary artist.

“BRUCE NAUMAN. Neons Corridors Rooms.” is a temporary exhibition taking place at HangarBicocca, Milan, from Sept. 15, 2022 to Feb. 26, 2023, organized in collaboration with Tate Modern, London and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and curated by Roberta Tenconi and Vicente Todolí with Andrea Lissoni, Nicholas Serota, Leontine Coelewij, Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen, and Katy Wan.  

The exhibition has a specific focus on Nauman’s spatial and architectural research, exploring for the first time in their entirety his experiments in terms of spatial experience, architectural approach, use of light, sound, language, and video. 

It is a wonderful opportunity to discover this artist. Let us see something about him and his art, keeping in mind that it is almost impossible to completely define his work and to wrap his polyhedric artistic expression under a single definition or a single style. And some of you, intrigued by this short article, will decide to dive into the “neons corridors rooms” of HangarBiccocca. 

Bruce Nauman is an American contemporary artist, one of the most significant artists of the second half of the 20th century and among the most prominent living artists. His art is revolutionary and he has marked the history of contemporary art from the mid-1960s to the present. He was born in 1941 in Indiana from a middle-class family – his father was an engineer – and due to his father’s job, he had to travel a lot with his family around America. Now he is living in New Mexico in an isolated ranch surrounded by nature and the desert. Initially, he did not have an artistic training, since he studied mathematics, physics, and philosophy at the University of Wisconsin from 1960 to 1964. Once he graduated, he moved quickly to the art field deciding to take an MFA (master’s in fine art) at University of California. Bruce Nauman established his position in the artistic field between the 60s and the 70s as a polyhedric artist: he used sculpture, neon, photography, videos and even his own body, space, light and sound. So, a large spectrum of languages and medium, but all connected by the idea that art must be a question mark, a practice that helps us to reveal something unseen. He conceived the “artist” as the human being that works to bring all of us to another kind of truth, that is not visible and tangible, but it is real as well. He is an artist who wanted to go beyond the eye vision and analyse in details various aspects of reality, finding different meaning beyond the surface of the objects. So, he conceived “art” as a tool to point-out some questions rather than forms and objects; according to him, art is not just a representation of reality like it is, but it is an in-depth analysis of questions regarding the human life, the role of the art and the artist.

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Bruce Nauman produced a new aesthetic. So, an artist who is redefining the language of art. He wants to understand the relationship between body and space, using his own body as a malleable raw material. At the end of the ‘60s Bruce Nauman arrived to produce an extraordinarily complex vocabulary where video, photography, sculpture, performance, and installations were used together to represent the role of the body as a tool for artistic expression, as a “living sculpture”. Moreover, he developed the idea of mixing images with text, visual material with literature and written creativity. Fundamental in his artistic evolution is the role of the artist’s studio, there is a famous quotation by Nauman which says: “Everything I was doing in the studio was art.” According to Nauman the studio is an emblematic key access to the idea of art, to the idea of an art that reflects profoundly the human condition and all its aspects. Furthermore, mathematics and the scientific method were important in developing his artistic thought and practice, and from his artworks, his interest in the relationship between art and mathematics emerged. His work was conceived as a series of artistic experimentation and some of his masterpieces were thought in terms of patterns, sequences, and series to structure the space in a unique way. He wanted to offer to the public the possibility to perceive the space in an unusual way, also enabling us to go beyond, perceive the different realities that surround us and ask ourselves questions about the deeper aspects of human experience.  

Author profile

My name is Chiara Agnoli, I was born and raised in Rome and I am currently a CLEACC student at Bocconi University. I am a curious, resourceful and creative young woman, who loves to travel and is interested in all forms of art and culture.

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