top of page

Art Index: Bruce Nauman

At this point, art became more of an activity and less of a product.”

Bruce Nauman

Bruce Nauman - The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign) 1967 Kunstmuseum Basel (Basel, Switzwerland) © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2020


Bruce Nauman (born December 6, 1941) is an American conceptual artist working in a wide array of media that includes neon lights, video, and performance. A central figure of 1970s art and pioneer in the development of post-minimal art, Nauman’s greatest contribution is perhaps his self-analytic investigations of the creative mind and its doubts concerning the production of art.

His works from the early 1990s are characterized by the depiction of factories, stock exchanges, airports, golf courses, highways, and buildings, often captured from an aerial point of view capable of revealing the hidden patterns of crowds and infrastructure. In 1996 he began favouring deadpan frontal views, an example of which we can see in the Prada series (1996–98), depicting the minimalist altars of luxury fashion, or, as in Prada II (1997), showing the empty shelves lit with fluorescent lights.

In the early 2000s Gursky began arranging his photographic montages according to classical patterns of representation. The Pyongyang photographs (2007), in particular—which show colorful, kaleidoscopic crowds of performers in North Korea—recall compositional methods used during the Renaissance. Gursky followed this series with photographs of more informal crowds, such as those at Cocoon, a famous German nightclub designed by his friend DJ Sven Väth. The club, with its perforated metallic walls, resembles a futuristic hive, and Gursky used its cavernous scale to produce hypnotic scenes that envelop the viewer in their repeated patterns.

Bruce Nauman e 1970 Tate Purchased 1994 © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2020

One of the recurring features of Nauman’s work is his use of neon, an element he uses in a similar way to Mario Merz, who used neon to bring new life to assemblages of mundane objects. Neon also connotes the public atmosphere by the means of advertising, and in his later works he uses it ironically with private, erotic imagery as seen in his Hanged Man (1985).

At the end of the 1960s, Nauman began constructing claustrophobic and enclosed corridors and rooms that could be entered by visitors and which evoked the experience of being locked in and of being abandoned. A series of works inspired by one of the artist's dreams was brought together under the title of Dream Passage and created in 1983, 1984, and 1988.

Since the mid-1980s, his work evolved into the inclusion of sculpture and video, developing disturbing psychological and physical themes which often incorporated images of animal and/or human body parts, allusions to sadism, torture and surveillance.

In 1988, after a two decade hiatus from cast object, he started re-exploring the old theme.

Nauman often circles back to his earlier concerns with new urgency. In Contrapposto Studies i through vii (2015/2016), he reinvests prior work with increased formal complexity and emotional range. This multi-channel projection finds the artist on familiar ground, retracing the steps of his Walk with Contrapposto. That 1968 video was Nauman’s riff on a classical pose, designed to enliven static sculpture and lend the body a pleasing curve. A stationary camera filmed the lithe young artist as he paced up and down a corridor, swinging his hips from side to side. The 2016 work again finds him walking the length of his studio in a grubby T-shirt and jeans, but his image now echoes across seven towering projections that leave the body in disarray. The effects of age are manifest in the artist’s heavier torso and wavering balance, making Contrapposto Studies an exceptionally clear-eyed portrayal of how time unmakes the body. “(Source)

Bruce Nauman, photographed in New Mexico on May 30, 2018.Credits: Alec Soth/Magnum Photos (

Using different media like video installation, performance, sculpture, and photography, Bruce Nauman is known for conceptual works that explore space, language, and the body. He infuses his pieces with irony and humor, creating verbal and visual puns to often unsettling effect, challenging viewers and making them aware of their own physicality. (3)

Nauman has participated in the 1977, 1985, 1987, 1991, and 1997 Whitney Biennales, with his work included in the permanent collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Kunstmuseum in Basel, and many others.

Nauman lives and works in Galisteo, NM.


According to price’s turnover in 2019 is $2,805,786 with the last peak in price dated 2013 with a turnover of $1,615,004. Most of his works were sold in the range of $1,000,000-$5,000,000.

The oldest auction result ever registered on the website for an artwork by this artist is a drawing-watercolor sold in 1985, at Sotheby's, and the most recent auction result is a print-multiple sold in 2020.'s price levels for this artist are based on 1,047 auction results.

The most common sales are comprised especially by: print-multiple, sculpture-volume, drawing-watercolor, audiovisual multimedia, photography, painting.

Distribution by price (by Artprice)

Three artwork(s) are currently for sale on Artprice's Marketplace and two auction houses are going to be auctioning pieces by the artist.

Nosbüsch & Stucke is holding an auction on the 21st Nov 2020 for Körperdruck/Body Pressure a print-multiple(2), offset, 63.5 x 42 cm with an estimate of $282.

Wright Auction will instead auction of Untitled (from the Fingers and Holes series) (1994), a print-multiple, Lithograph, 76 x 102 cm with an estimate of $3,000 - $5,000, from the 18th of Nov 2020 to the 19th Nov 2020.



bottom of page