Gagosian Paris is pleased to present key works by Bruce Nauman spanning three decades.
Since the 1960s, Nauman’s radical interdisciplinary approach has challenged conventions while producing new methodologies for creating art and meaning. His rigorous, ascetic engagement with the existential dichotomies of life/death, love/hate, pleasure/pain has embraced performance, video, holography, installation, sculpture, and drawing. From the attitudes and forms of his Post-Minimalist and Conceptual work to his most recent sound installations, persistent themes and ideas appear: the use of the body as material; the relationship between image and language, art and viewer; and the generative interaction of positive and negative space.
William T. Wiley or Ray Johnson Trap (1967) is an early example of Nauman’s resourceful and at times afflictive manipulation of the body. During a visit to his former professor William T. Wiley’s home, a bundle of mail art by Ray Johnson arrived. Nauman arranged the odds and ends sent by Johnson—shoelaces, a scarf, a matchbook—around Wiley’s body as he lay on the floor; when Wiley arose, he photographed the peculiar silhouette. What appears to be a snapshot of strewn accoutrements is in fact a fleeting “trap” in which he engages two of his conceptual forebears.
In Audio Video Piece for London, Ontario (1969–70), Nauman uses a closed-circuit television, a camera, and an audio recording to confuse sensory perception. The television broadcasts images of an adjoining room. Rhythmic noises emanate from the inaccessible space, prompting the question of why it appears completely empty on-screen. Conceived a decade later, the geometric steel sculpture Dead End Tunnel Folded into Four Arms with Common Walls (1980–87) similarly conveys disconnection and miscommunication. The “dead ends” represented by a floor-bound steel cross provide a primitive architectural maquette for a dysfunctional space, echoing Nauman’s Corridor installations of the 1960s and 1970s, in which viewers encountered disorienting passages leading to nowhere.Continue Reading..