Alter Gallery 176 and Gallery 171, first floor
This exhibition presents a new work by Bruce Nauman, Contrapposto Studies, I through VII, which continues the artist's exploration of video, sound, and performance. Characteristic of his work over the last five decades, Nauman transforms a simple and subtle gesture into a complex network of images and sound.
Consisting of seven large-scale video projections with sound (five in Alter Gallery 176 and two in gallery 171), the work features footage of the artist as he walks in contrapposto. Italian for "counterpose," contrapposto refers to a pose that first appeared in Greek classical sculpture. This shift to naturalism emphasized the counterbalance inherent to the human body in motion.
In 1968 Nauman created the seminal video Walk with Contrapposto, in which the artist performed an exaggerated walk along a tall, narrow corridor that he had built. In 2015/2016 Nauman elaborates and expands upon this action, exposing it to digital manipulation and recombination. The artist's movements are rendered in positive and negative, moving forward and backward respectively. The soundtrack of each projection captures his movements, compounding the relationship between aural and visual experience.
Making reference to his earlier work while ruminating on the bodily ideals of classical sculpture, Nauman's Contrapposto Studies, I through VII dwells on the history and possibility of representation.
Get a sneak peek at works in this exhibition.
Bruce Nauman is one of the most influential artists of his generation. Since the 1960s, his work across sculpture, sound, installation, film, and video has questioned the very nature of what constitutes art and being an artist, probed the possibilities of the body as a subject and tool for performance, and explored the relationship between language and meaning. Born in 1941 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Nauman studied at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of California, Davis. After graduate school, he occupied a storefront studio in the space of an old grocery store in San Francisco. There, an old neon beer sign served as inspiration for Nauman's celebrated neon The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign), which the Museum acquired in 2007. The artist's first solo debut in New York was at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1968, and his first major museum survey was coorganized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1972. In 1994 a traveling retrospective of Nauman's work as well as a catalogue raisonné were organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in association with the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. Following the presentation of as the official US entry to the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009, Nauman's two new sound works produced in concert with that project, Days and Giorni, had their United States premiere at the Museum. Nauman lives in New Mexico with his wife, artist Susan Rothenberg.
Support for this exhibition has been provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Daniel W. Dietrich II Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art, and by Isabel and Agustín Coppel.
Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art; and Erica F. Battle, The John Alchin and Hal Marryatt Associate Curator of Contemporary Art