Sperone Westwater is pleased to present His Mark, a new six-channel 3-D video installation by Bruce Nauman, his fourteenth show at the gallery since his first in 1976. Nauman drew inspiration for this new artwork from a history textbook, a gift from his grandson Milo, which contained a copy of a treaty signed by the Canadian government, representing the Queen of England, and the Native American chief of the Blackfoot Band. “The Canadian representative signed their name,” explains Nauman, “but the chief just made a mark,” signing his name as an X. Later, when signing legal documents of his own, Nauman found himself in a moment of revelation. “Why can't I just have a mark?” he exclaimed. “So I've been making all these videotapes of my fingers and hands signing Xs. I owe it all to my grandson.”
Installed over three floors of the gallery, His Mark consists of six 3-D projections, each 114 x 203 inches, of the artist’s hands tracing the shape of an X on a table. Each projection presents differing combinations of Nauman’s left and right hands, singly and together, moving in and out of the frame. Alterations and permutations transform the image—in some cases, the artist’s hands are duplicated or repeated; in others, the image is manipulated. Constant is the repetition of gesture—the action of marking an X—which Nauman transforms from a seemingly simple movement into an ambiguous, increasingly complex visual language both abstract and concrete. His Mark probes the relationship between perception and reality, evidence and illusion. Consistent in Nauman’s practice is the use of his body, specifically his hands, which recur in his work in drawings, photographs, neons and other media, as well as video. He creates physical experiences which cause us to confront our own identity and the ambiguity of our engagement with the world.
Nauman is the subject of two concurrent international exhibitions. A comprehensive survey organized by Tate Modern, curated by Andrea Lissoni and Nicholas Serota, continues its tour after Tate Modern, London (2020) and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2021) to M Woods, Beijing, (2022) and Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2022-23). “Bruce Nauman: Contrapposto Studies,” curated by Carlos Basualdo, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Caroline Bourgeois, Pinault Collection, opened at Punta della Dogana, Venice last May and has been extended until 27 November 2022. Both are accompanied by publications.
Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1941, Bruce Nauman received his BS from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1964) and his MFA from the University of California, Davis (1966). Nauman is widely regarded as among the most important living American artists and as a catalyst for the shift in international artistic practice toward conceptual and performative uses of language and the body. Since his first solo gallery show in 1966, Nauman has been the subject of many notable museum exhibitions, including a survey organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1972-73) and a survey at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London in collaboration with the Kunsthalle Basel and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1986-87). A major retrospective, co-organized by The Walker Art Center and the Hirshhorn Museum, opened at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, and travelled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Kunsthaus Zurich (1993-95). Other important solo exhibitions include “Raw Materials,” commissioned for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall (2004); “A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s” at the Berkeley Art Museum, Castello di Rivoli, and Menil Collection (2007-08); and “Bruce Nauman” at the Fondation Cartier (2015). “Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts,” a comprehensive retrospective, debuted at Schaulager, Basel (2018) and traveled to The Museum of Modern Art, New York and MoMA P.S.1 (2018-19). In 2020, Tate presented a survey that traveled to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam the following year. The exhibition continues at M Woods, Beijing, opening 11 March 2022, before concluding at Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2022-23). In May 2021, Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana opened “Bruce Nauman: Contrapposto Studies,” which will be on view until 27 November 2022. Nauman received the Wolf Foundation Prize in Arts in 1993, the Wexner Prize in 1994, the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, and the Praemium Imperiale in 2004 in Japan. Nauman represented the United States at the 2009 Venice Biennale; the pavilion was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. Nauman was the 2014 laureate of the Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize. Since his first exhibition at Sperone Westwater in 1976, Nauman has exhibited regularly at the gallery (1982, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1996, 2002, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2020 and 2022).