Bruce Nauman (1941) and the CAROUSEL (1988)

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Why a blog on Bruce Nauman? simple, because i think he is one of the truly great artist from the 20th century. Never have met him, but i was one of the first to see his spectacular carousel with dead animals of which several versions are known. The one in the collection of the Gemeentemuseum was bought by Rudi Fuchs for the collection of the Gemeentemuseum for a modest amount of only 300k guilders, but at that time it was a huge amount for the museum. I am glad that it was bought because together with the Donald Judd in the garden and the large Sol LeWitt, these works are the highlights in the acquisitions of the dutch museums in the eighties. Most of them collected dutch art and did not focus on the international art scene. For this different point of view on collecting the Gemeentemuseum is now rewarded with some excellent, international important, works of art , which are great additions to their collections…..but back to Nauman. Nauman way of interpreting socially relevant subjects and translating them into works of art using language and neon made him a first.

Nauman began in the 1960s with exhibitions at Nick Wilder’s gallery in Los Angeles and in New York at Leo Castelli in 1968 along with early solo shows at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum in 1972. Nauman’s use of neon as a medium was very recurrent in his works.  Neon also connotes the public atmosphere by the means of advertising, and in his later works he uses it ironically with private, erotic imagery as seen in his Hanged Man (1985).

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His Self Portrait as a Fountain (1966) shows the artist spouting a stream of water from his mouth. At the end of the 1960s, Nauman began constructing claustrophobic and enclosed corridors and rooms that could be entered by visitors and which evoked the experience of being locked in and of being abandoned. A series of works inspired by one of the artist’s dreams was brought together under the title of Dream Passage and created in 1983, 1984, and 1988.[ In his installation Changing Light Corridor with Rooms (1971), a long corridor is shrouded in darkness, whilst two rooms on either side are illuminated by bulbs that are timed to flash at different rates.

Since the mid-1980s, primarily working with sculpture and video, Nauman developed disturbing psychological and physical themes incorporating images of animal and human body parts, depicting sadistic allusions to games and torture together with themes of surveillance. In 1988, after a hiatus of nearly two decades focused on time-based media, he resumed his work with cast objects. And at this time he made several versions of the “CAROUSEL”.

the Gemeentemuseum “Carousel” from 1988

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The stainless steel version in action

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