Why is Bruce Nauman numbered among the best-known artists in the world? What it is about his many-sided oeuvre that has fascinated viewers for decades? Eugen Blume discusses these questions dealing with the works produced to date by Nauman, one of the most outstanding living artist personalities.
The text begins with Bruce Nauman’s own recognition that his works development derives from a disappointment in the ‘human condition’. The author therefore inquires about the conditions of human existence in the nineteen sixties and seventies and what test assemblies Nauman developed to assure himself of this.
In his performances, the artist investigates elemental movements in terms of their significance for art as well as for human existence per se. It is an anti-illusionist procedure, a disappointment of references of reality that are also understood as an anti-form.
Nauman does without aesthetic or narrative dimensions in his works, playing instead with the willingness of the viewer to deal with this work by means of his own actions. Starting with the conversations he carried out with Meredith Monk in 1967 and his encounter with John Cage and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the informative, ‘descriptive’ role of dance and the body is examined as one of the central themes in Nauman’s work.
Aside from dance movements, sound also takes on particular significance throughout his work. This interest in sound deriving from Nauman’s own intense relationship to music is joined here by his language-oriented work.
Since his days as a student, his dealings with puns promoted by his reading of the works of Wittgenstein are of considerable significance in his oeuvre and are also analysed in the text.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof from May 2010.