Bruce Nauman Retrospective at MoMA & PS1

by | News

The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 present the first comprehensive retrospective in 25 years devoted to the work of American artist Bruce Nauman (b. 1941), on view at The Museum of Modern Art from October 21, 2018, through February 18, 2019, and at MoMA PS1 from October 21, 2018, through February 25, 2019. Co-organized by The Museum of Modern Art and Laurenz Foundation, Schaulager Basel, Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts draws upon the rich holdings of both institutions and nearly 70 lenders.

The exhibition will occupy the entire 6th floor of Museum, and the whole of MoMA PS1, providing an opportunity to discover and experience the entirety of the artists oeuvre in a wide range of mediums; from drawing, printmaking, photography, and sculpture to neon, performance, film and video, and architecturally scaled environments. His versatile manipulation of materials makes him one of the most prominent American artists to emerge in the 1960’s.

Bruce Nauman retrospective MoMA and PS1


Nauman ‘s Diverse Artistic Expressions

Nauman’s work is not easily defined by the materials that he uses, styles or themes, and is characteristic of Post-Minimalism – he blends his ideas from Conceptualism, Minimalism, performance art and video art. Since the 70’s Nauman has frequently worked on a monumental scale, further reinforcing the fact that it is necessary to present his retrospective across both of MoMA’s locations. Both venues include works in all mediums and from all phases of Nauman’s career, offering distinct but complementary perspectives on his wide-ranging practice.

Disappearing Acts traces strategies of withdrawal in Nauman’s art—both literal and figurative incidents of removal, deflection, and concealment. Close relatives of disappearance also appear in many forms. They are seen, for example, in holes the size of a body part, in the space under a chair, in the self-vanishing around a corner, and in the mental blocks that empty creative possibility. “For Nauman,” said Halbreich, Associate Director and Laurenz Foundation Curator “disappearance is both a real phenomenon and a magnificently ample metaphor for grappling with the anxieties of both the creative process and of navigating the everyday world.”

Bruce Nauman retrospective at MoMA and PS1

Bruce Nauman. One Hundred Live and Die. 1984. Neon tubing with clear glass tubing on metal monolith

Dancing to the Beat of his own Drum

Nauman is an inquisitive artist who explores different avenues testing out what works, and what doesn’t. He has an incredible talent in terms of working with what is available to him – weaving forms together, and never conforming to a signature style. He is obsessed with language which is at the same time the subject and content of his work, music plays an important role as well as one can feel the impulse of it even if you can’t hear it; acting as an all-inclusive universal language. He shies away from the image of an artist as a big personality, instead is more secluded and focussed on the practice of art itself as opposed to the celebrity aspect that comes along with it.

“I’ve always had overlapping ways of going about my work,” Bruce Nauman once remarked. “I’ve never been able to stick to one thing.” Bruce Nauman challenges our perceptions and imaginings in ever new ways with his diverse and uniquely radical works.


Bruce Nauman. Pay Attention. 1973. Lithograph, edition of 50; each