11 March 2022 – 10 July 2022
M WOODS Hutong

Curated at M WOODS by Victor Wang, Artistic Director and Chief Curator

Curated at Tate Modern by Andrea Lissoni, former Senior Curator, International Art (Film), Tate Modern; Nicholas Serota, former Director, Tate, and Katy Wan, Assistant Curator, International Art, Tate Modern.

In collaboration with Tate Modern, London and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, M WOODS Museumpresents China’s first and most comprehensive overview of the work of the American artist Bruce Nauman.

Bruce Nauman
The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign) 
© 2022 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS)

The exhibition features work from fifty years of Nauman’s career, and departs from previous surveys in its experiential approach to display and its focus on Nauman’s interest in performance art, neon, sound, and the moving image.

Bringing together key works that call attention to Nauman’s highly innovative approach to making art, the exhibition will also include a special presentation of Nauman’s 2004 Tate Turbine Hall commission Raw Materials, which functions as a sound retrospective, bringing together 22 audio excerpts from works spanning a nearly forty year period.

Bruce Nauman 
One Hundred Live and Die
© 2022 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS)

“[If] I was an artist and I was in the studio”, Nauman explained, “then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art.” The exhibition will also present important works from museum collections internationally that explore Nauman’s preoccupation with the theme of the artist’s studio. MAPPING THE STUDIO II with color shift, flip, flop & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage) (2001) features seven large video projections presenting different views of Nauman’s studio in New Mexico, filmed at night with an infrared camera over a period of several weeks.While MAPPING THE STUDIO II focuses on the artist’s studio, video installations like Clown Torture (1987) and Anthro/Socio (Rinde Spinning) (1992) challenge the conventional gallery experience, confronting and at times directly engaging the viewer in the actions taking place.

Bruce Nauman
Human Nature/Knows Doesn’t Know
© 2022 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS)

Reflecting both Nauman’s use of the body as a primary artistic medium and the increasing use of film (and later, video) as an important tool for the documentation of performance art in the 1960s, Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square (1967–8),  Walk with Contrapposto (1968), and Bouncing in the Corner, No. 1 (1968) are among Nauman’s earliest works, made following his graduate studies in Fine Art at the University of California, Davis.

Bruce Nauman
Going Around the Corner Piece with Live and Taped Monitors 1970.
© 2022 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS)

The exhibition also features Nauman’s influential neon sculptures  that explore the ways in which art can occupy a space between advertising and consumerism, and the potential of language and light. Works such as The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign) (1967) were inspired by a commercial beer sign which hung in his San Francisco studio, a former grocery store. The True Artist is also the first of Nauman’s neons to incorporate text. Nauman explained: “I had an idea that I could make art that would kind of disappear – an art that was supposed to not quite look like art. You wouldn’t really notice it until you paid attention.”

Bruce Nauman
Changing Light Corridor with Rooms
ARTIST ROOMS Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland
© ARS, NY and DACS, London
2022. Photo: Tate

Two important works, Going Around the Corner Piece with Live and Taped Monitors (1970) and Changing Light Corridor with Rooms (1971), both reveal the ways in which, for Nauman, behavioural attitudes and audience participation are related to psychological states and spaces. When encounteringGoing Around the Corner Piece, the visitor is required to be both a viewer and a participant, as a CCTV camera records the audience as they activate the work. Built a year later in his Los Angeles studio, Changing Light Corridor with Rooms consists of a long-walled corridor with two side rooms (one rectangular, the other triangular) intermittently flashing lights as the viewer walks through the constricted space.  A number of these corridors evidence the artist’s concern with the effect physical spaces can have on people and their behaviour, especially the way that constructed environments can create feelings of unease and change an individual’s mood.

Exhibition organised by Tate Modern, London and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, in collaboration with M WOODS, Beijing and Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan

About the Artist

Bruce Nauman was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1941, and has lived and worked in New Mexico since 1979. After undergraduate studies in mathematics, physics and art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Davis, in 1966. In 1972, at the age of thirty-one, Nauman had his first retrospective exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. In 1994 a large retrospective of his work and accompanied by the publication of a catalogue raisonné, was organised by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC. Over the course of his artistic career, Nauman has held major museum shows in prestigious institutions internationally including Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art New York, Hamburger Bahnhof, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, Hayward Gallery, Centre Pompidou, Whitechapel Gallery and Kunstmuseum Basel. He has participated in five editions of the major quinquennial exhibition Documenta (1968, 1972, 1977, 1982 and 1992) and has presented work in the main exhibition of the Venice Biennale at least six times, at which he was awarded the Golden Lion twice.

With special thanks to Sperone Westwater, New York, Nauman’s primary representation, where he has shown since 1976.

©M WOODS 2022