Bruce Nauman

American sculptor and performance artist (1941- )

Bruce Nauman (born December 6, 1941) is an American artist. His practice spans a broad range of media including sculpture, photography, neon, video, drawing, printmaking, and performance. Nauman lives near Galisteo, New Mexico.

Truncated Pyramid Room (1982/1998) in Lörrach, Germany


  • I am really interested in the different ways that language functions... When language begins to break down a little bit, it becomes exciting and communicates in nearly the simplest way that it can function: you are forced to be aware of the sounds and the poetic parts of words. If you deal only with what is known, you’ll have redundancy; on the other hand, if you deal only with the unknown, you cannot communicate at all. There is always some combination of the two, and it is how they touch each other that makes communication interesting.
    • In: Christopher Cordes, ‎John Yau (1989), Bruce Nauman, 1989 Bruce Nauman, prints 1970-89: a catalogue raisonné, p. xx: In answer of the question "How does your work reflect your views on the use of language today?"
  • I don't work that way. Part of it has to do with an idea of beauty. Sunsets, flowers, landscapes: these kinds of things don't move me to do anything. I just want to leave them alone. My work comes out of being frustrated about the human condition. And about how people refuse to understand other people. And about how people can be cruel to each other. It’s not that I think I can change that, but it’s such a frustrating part of human history

Quotes about Bruce Nauman


chronologically, by date of the quote

  • What really moves you and not just faked emotion. I don't think it's good when it's like that in art – but unfortunately it often is. That's why I like Bruce Nauman, for example, as a sculptor. With his work, sometimes I have really thought to myself, that's simply beautiful.. .Above all, it is difficult enough to depict something that moves you deep down inside. But that's ultimately what art is all about, and that's also what appeals to people – if an artist can do it.
    • Isa Genzken, (2003) in: 'Isa Genzken in conversation with Wolfgang Tilmans, (transl. Richard Watts). First published in: Camera Austria, No. 81/2003, pp. 7–18
  • FOR MANY YEARS, Bruce Nauman has occupied an unusual position in the art world. Known as a vastly influential pioneer of everything from performance to video to conceptualism to installation, with nearly half a century of international biennials and museum exhibitions behind him, Nauman is the rare artist who seems entirely uninterested in pandering to the demands of his own celebrity—and he's been able to get away with it. In 1979, he moved to New Mexico, and he now spends most of his time on a 700-acre ranch south of Santa Fe, emerging from his cluttered studio only to train, breed and ride horses (and presumably to spend a little time with his wife of 25 years, the painter Susan Rothenberg). Communication with the outside world is conducted via his studio manager and gatekeeper of 29 years, Juliet Myers. And inquiries are often fruitless, as Nauman is known for almost always saying no to retrospectives, interviews or anything else that might "totalize," as he's said to put it, his work and career.
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