Bruce Nauman has reached an almost mythic status as a contemporary visual artist.  He is one of the few living artists whose is revered as a Great.  Hauser & Wirth present a new show of work by the Great artist: Bruce Nauman / mindfuck brings together a selection of works from Nauman’s career whose central concern is the convergence of mind, body, language, sex, death and language.  You know, only all the important things of life.


The first question that pops into this writers head is, ‘What gives Nauman the right to make work like this?’  Well, he’s an artist.  His job isn’t to explain, it’s to present a view of the world that is developed uniquely from his own (admittedly very wide) knowledge and experience.  It's a point of view that has been developed from the ovum of his studio, the sancturary of that womb and the recognition of his own intellectual nascency.  The display is predominantly comprised of installation and Nauman’s trademark neon sculptures.  The accompanying text and catalogue make much of the language of metapsychology that Nauman explores.  It’s a new reading of Nauman's work, and at points feels stretched, but for those of you with an interest in post-Freudian self-analysis, it's interesting stuff.


Because a show by Nauman is a show worth visiting.  Take the themes of the work and take its interpretations.  These are not things to be sniffed at.  Nauman is taking the very fundamentals of what makes us human and both reduces and highlights its absurdity, contradiction, difficulty and -- ultimately -- its sheer power.  Influential is not the right word to describe Nauman; it feels inadequate.  Whether your interest in art is spiritual, corporeal, political or visceral, Nauman’s work has something for you, and its something to mull over and keep with you.  It’s Great art.


Bruce Nauman / mindfuck is at Hauser & Wirth until 09 March.




header image:

'sex and death/double '69'', 1985
neon tubing on aluminium monolith
227 x 134.8 x 34 cm / 89 3/8 x 53 1/8 x 13 3/8 in
image © 2012 bruce nauman / artists rights society (ARS), new york / DACS london
private collection. courtesy hauser & wirth
photo: stefan altenburger photography zürich


second image

'run from fear, fun from rear', 1972 by bruce nauman
neon tubing with clear glass tubing suspension frame
two parts:
20.3 x 116.8 x 5.7 cm  / 8  x 46  x 2 1/4 in
18.4 x 113 x 5.7 cm  / 7 1/4 x 44 1/2 x 2 1/4 in
image © 2012 bruce nauman / artists rights society (ARS), new york / DACS london
private collection