Bruce Nauman


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Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bruce Nauman is “a contemporary Americanartist. His practice spans a broad range of media including sculpture, photography, neon, video,drawing, printmaking, and performance”.[1]

“Nauman finds inspiration in the activities, speech,and materials of everyday life. Confronted with ‘What to do?’ in his studio soon after graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1964 with a BFA, and then the University of California,Davis in 1966 with an MFA, Nauman had the simple but profound realization that ‘If I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art. At this point art became more of an activity and less of a product.’ Working in the diverse mediums of sculpture, video, film, printmaking, performance,and installation, Nauman concentrates less on the development of a characteristic style and more on the way in which a process or activity can transform or become a work of art. A survey of his diverse output demonstrates the alternately political, prosaic,spiritual,and crass methods by which Nauman examines life in all its gory details, mapping the human arc between life and death. The text from an early neon work proclaims: ‘The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths.’ Whether or not we—or even Nauman—agree with this statement, the underlying subtext of the piece emphasizes the way in which the audience, artist, and culture at large are involved in the resonance a work of art will ultimately have. Nauman lives in New Mexico.”[2]


  • 1964 B.S. University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • 1966 M.F.A. University of California, Davis
  • 1966-68 Taught at San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco
  • 1970 Taught at University of California, Irvine

Selected Artwork

  • 1970  Live-Taped Video Corridor

Selected Awards

  • 1968 NEA Grant, Artistic Fellowship Award, Washington, D. C.
  • 1970 Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies Grant, Colorado
  • 1986 Skowhegan Award, Skowhegan, Maine
  • 1989 Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, San Francisco Art Institute, California
  • 1990 Max Beckmann Prize, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 1993 Alumni Citation for Excellence, University of California, Davis, California
    The Wolf Foundation Prize in Arts (Sculpture), Herzlia, Israel
  • 1994 The Wexner Prize, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
  • 1995 Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Aldrich Prize, Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut




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