Works on paper
Since the mid-1960s the American sculptor Bruce Nauman (b. 1941) has been one of the most highly respected and influential figures in contemporary art. He is noted for his toughness, his refusal to compromise, his exploratory way of working and his search for self-knowledge. His work, and is leavened by a liberal dose of humour, combines bodily consciousness, physical activity, mental activity, linguistic manipulation and a background in mathematics. It also focuses on perception, spatial relationships, human psychology and issues of life and death. Early in his career Nauman abandoned painting in favour of sculpture expressed through performance, installation, film, video, photography and neon (amongst other activities).
His restless intellect seems to drive a continual desire to question, experiment and re-invent. ARTIST ROOMS covers nearly thirty years and a wide range of his work in different media. These include 'Enforced Perspective: Allegory and Symbolism 1975' which is constructed from 36 rhomboid steel blocks four inches high and fourteen across arranged in eight groups of which six are made from five blocks and two of three. Nauman made a number of installations in which the various materials and sizes mean the perspective of the work is manipulated in different ways.
The artist and the spectator's relationship with walls and floors is a frequent subject of his work in the 1970s. Nauman made 'Changing Light Corridor with Rooms' in 1971, which consists of a long narrow corridor with a room on each side, of which one is rectangular and one triangular. The corridor is dark, but lights in the rooms are programmed to go on and off, raising the viewer's consciousness of his physical and mental response to this unsettling situation.
Nauman was one of the earliest users of neon tubing to display written statements, puns and anagrams. In 1972, for his retrospective at the LA County Museum of Art, he proposed an outdoor neon which would encircle the outer walls of the building based on the adjacent paleontological and archaeological site called the La Brea Tar Pits. The wording of the flashing message included the name of the place and the anagram Art Tips and Rat Spit taken from the words Tar Pits. The outdoor work did not happen, but in the same year he made the unique multi-coloured version now in ARTIST ROOMS.