Bruce Nauman (b. 1941, Fort Wayne, IN) is an important American artist whose practice spans sculpture, photography, neon, video, drawing, printmaking, and performance. He is widely said to be a part of the post-Minimalist movement, although his work defies single categorization or style. Taking heavily from Dadism, Minimalism and Conceptualism, Nauman’s practice finds its foothold in the satirical, the political, and the absurd in his exploration of language, the body, and material.
In 1966, Nauman graduated from the University of California, Davis with an MFA, where he focused on experimental paintings and sculpture. An instrumental decision in his career to give up painting in 1965 led to the exploration of new and non-traditional media in film, performance, and sculpture. His rise to recognition was swift, having his first solo show with Leo Castelli only two years after his graduation. That same year, he was included in Documenta IV. By 1972, Nauman had shown in group and solo shows at major museums in the US and Europe, including Kunsthalle Bern, the Stedlijk Museum, LACMA, and the Whitney Museum. This popularity led to a considerable reduction in completed work by Nauman who rejected the attention. What did occur, however, was the introduction of text-based work into his oeuvre during this time. Nauman’s use of language is prominent in his printmaking, which entered into his practice in 1972. He has commented on the directness, tightness, and clarity that printmaking affords his work.
Important solo exhibitions of Nauman’s work have been held at Art Gallery of Ontario; Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Venice Biennale; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Biennial. Nauman has received numerous awards including an honorary doctorate from the San Francisco Art Institute, the Max Beckmann Prize, Wolf Prize in Arts-Sculpture, Wexner Prize, and the 2009 Golden Lion for Best Artist at the Venice Biennale.