Bruce Nauman stands out as one of the most provocative and innovative artists of the 20th century. Since the 1960s, he has adopted a multidisciplinary approach that resists stylistic categorization, borrowing from a multitude of expressive forms including sculpture, video, photography and performance. He has also produced films, interactive environments, motorized carousels, and precariously balanced imposing sculptures that explore themes of the body and identity, the role of language and the mechanics of communication, the phenomena of perception and the relationship between creative process and viewer interaction. Nauman questions the fundamental role of the artist and the traditional parameters of art. After a profound reflection on the nature and limits of art, he abandoned painting to focus on sculpture and performance, embracing a methodology that linked him to process art. His conceptual approach is anchored in the everyday and emphasizes meaning over aesthetics. Fascinated by semiotics and the structure of language, he produced a series of neon signs that featured various word plays. Beginning in the late 1960s, Nauman created his “corridors”—long, narrow, minimalist passages in which visitors were invited to enter and participate in a kind of performance that was defined by their actions and on the space created by the artist.

Smoke Rings: Two Concentric Tunnels, Skewed and Noncommunicating, 1980, Plaster and wood.
© Bruce Nauman / SOCAN (2022) • Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay