Art exhibition review: Bruce Nauman at Tate Modern

It was great to be able to go back to the Tate Modern this week. Last time I visited the gallery was for an exclusive preview of Andy Warhol‘s exhibition, back in March before lockdown started. The latest retrospective to run between 7 OCTOBER 2020 and 21 FEBRUARY 2021 is Bruce Nauman’s first major exhibition in London in more than 20 years. It allows visitors to engage with the artist’s universe through immersive installations with a strong emphasis on sound and moving image, as well as poetic sculptures and neon pieces.

Bruce Nauman (born in 1941) is a contemporary American artist. His practice spans a broad range of media including sculpture, photography, neon, video, drawing, printmaking, and performance. Bruce Nauman is a restlessly inventive artist. Since the late 1960s he has continually tested what an artwork can be, by reshaping old forms and creating new ones. His ground-breaking works using sound, film, video and neon have influenced generations of artists.

Throughout his career he has questioned the role of the artist and has explored various forms of art involving different media and formats. For this reason, his work can be considered more conceptual. 

Conceptual art can look like almost anything. This is because, unlike a painter or sculptor who will think about how best they can express their idea using paint or sculptural materials and techniques, a conceptual artist uses whatever materials and whatever form is most appropriate to putting their idea across – this could be anything from a performance to a written description. Although there is no one style or form used by conceptual artists, from the late 1960s certain trends emerged.

Bruce Nauman’s installations are already quite iconic and play with the ideas behind some kids’ entertainment like classic games and magicians’ tricks. 

I particularly loved his neon artwork. 


Major works like Double Steel Cage Piece 1974, Anthro/Socio (Rinde Spinning) and Clown Torture 1987 highlights Nauman’s distinctive preoccupations and how he incessantly revisits them – yet never repeats himself.

Teenagers will enjoy this exhibition which will help them reflect early on about what makes art original and unique following the journey through the ground-breaking works of this quintessential contemporary artist. 

Exhibition organised by Tate Modern and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in collaboration with Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan.

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