“What I am really concerned about is what art is supposed to be – and can become.”
Bruce Nauman was one of the most prominent, influential, and versatile American artists to emerge in the 1960s. Although his work is not easily defined by its materials, styles, or themes, sculpture is central to it, and it is characteristic ofin the way it blends ideas from , , , and . The revival of interest in in the 1960s also clearly influenced Nauman in various ways, from encouraging his love of wordplay to infusing his work with a satirical and sometimes absurdist tone. Despite the impact of , however, he has continued to view his art less as a playful or creative enterprise than as a serious research endeavor, one he likes to carry out in seclusion from the art world, one that is shaped by his interests in ethics and politics.
Some of Nauman’s earliest work was shaped by ideas that arose in the wake of Minimalism in the late 1960s. In particular, the way he treated the body – often his own, shown on video completing repetitive tasks – and the way he related the body to surrounding objects show the impact of Minimalism’s new ideas about the relationship between the viewer and the sculptural object. His occasional interest in abstraction and sculptural concerns such as gravity also betray the style’s influence. But Nauman, shunned the slick production values of Minimalism and has often showed a preference for a cruder manner of presentation.