Bruce Nauman was born December 6, 1941, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He studied art, mathematics, and physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1960 to 1964. He went on to study under William T. Wiley and Robert Arneson at the University of California, Davis, graduating with an MFA in 1966. In 1964, Nauman gave up painting and began experimenting with sculpture and performance art, and collaborated with William Allan and Robert Nelson on film projects.
Since the mid-’60s, the artist has created an open-ended body of work that includes sculptures, films, holograms, interactive environments, neon wall reliefs, photographs, prints, sculptures, videotapes, and performance. His conceptual work stresses meaning over aesthetics; it often uses irony and wordplay to raise issues about existence and alienation, and increasingly provokes the viewer’s participation and dismay.
In 1966, the Nicholas Wilder Gallery, Los Angeles, held Nauman’s first solo exhibition. In 1968, the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, and the Galerie Konrad Fischer, Düsseldorf, initiated a long series of solo shows. In 1972, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, organized the first solo museum exhibition of the artist’s work, which traveled in Europe and the United States. Since the mid-’80s, primarily working with sculpture and video, he has developed disturbing psychological and physical themes with imagery based on animal and human body parts.
Movie Bruce Nauman Clown Torture – Bruce Nauman, 1987
Movie Bruce Nauman Walking in an Exaggerated Manner around the Perimeter of a Square 1967-68
Nauman has received many honors, including an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1989, the Max Beckmann Prize in 1990, the Wolf Prize in Arts-Sculpture in 1993, and the Wexner Prize in 1994. Most recently, Nauman was selected to represent the United States in the 2009 Venice Biennale.