Thursday, May 28, 2009

calvin tomkins on bruce nauman

in this week's new yorker, calvin tomkins (the art critique for the new yorker who ever-so-often graces us with his enlightening profiles of an artist) visits the 700 acre new mexico ranch of bruce nauman and susan rothenberg. tomkins, per usual, peels away the thick skin of bruce nauman whose work is often overlooked for the visceral response it elicits. his more famous works have included: flashing neon signs that with wordplays "Raw/War," "Eat/Death", and "Run from Fear, Fun from Rear", a film called "Clown Torture" that displays the humiliations of circus clowns who winds up on the floor screaming "no, no, no" in all decibels of audible sound, and film called "Violent Incident" that displays a domestic spat that results into a double homecide. you can read a portion of the profile for free at here: ( Calvin Tomkins, Onward and Upward with the Arts, “Western Disturbances,” The New Yorker, June 1, 2009, p. 68) and here are some quotes i pulled from the magazine:

on why nauman is legit:
By bringing social and political content back into art (without cynicism), and by probing relentlessly intot he darker aspect sof American life, Nauman helped to break the grip of Minimal art. He forces you to experience his art viscerally, not just look at it.
on bruce nauman's persona:
His large head reminded me of a Gilbert Stuart portrait of Washington, with its prominent nose and high, tapereing forehead. Talking about his work or his life doesn't come easily, but the bourbon helps. Nauman speaks slowly, with frequent pauses to work out what he's going to say.
nauman, on his own art:
"If you tried to watch it, you missed out. You just had to wander through and let it work."
on nauman, post 1980s disturbia:
Nauman now spends nearly as much time working with his horses as he does in his studio, and in his mind the two activities are 1987, he would hand a simple scenario to the performer and let him (or her) improvise...'I don't know if there's a connection, but I started to give up control when I was learning about horses,' he said. 'I think the work got richer'.
if you are unfamiliar with the work of bruce nauman check out the video below, edited in the style of bruce nauman (you'll see what i mean):

1 comment:

the turntable said...

nauman's stuff is crazy--good post

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