Still from Contrapposto Studies, i through vii (detail). 2015⁄16. Seven-channel video. Jointly owned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired in part through the generosity of Agnes Gund and Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder; and Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation, gift of the president 2017, on permanent loan to Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel. © 2018 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Bruce Nauman Disappearing Acts

Through February 2019 The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1 Member Early Hours
  • The Museum of Modern Art, Floor 6
  • MoMA PS1

The exhibition is on view at The Museum of Modern Art through February 18, 2019, and at MoMA PS1 through February 25, 2019.

Bruce Nauman has spent half a century inventing forms to convey both the moral hazards and the thrill of being alive. Employing a tremendous range of materials and working methods, he reveals how mutable experiences of time, space, movement, and language provide an unstable foundation for understanding our place in the world. For Nauman, both making and looking at art involve “doing things that you don’t particularly want to do, putting yourself in unfamiliar situations, following resistances to find out why you’re resisting.” At a time when the notion of truth feels increasingly under attack, his work compels viewers to relinquish the safety of the familiar, keeping us alert, ever vigilant, and wary of being seduced by easy answers.

Nauman’s art has always defied categorization. Delicate watercolors, flashing neon signs, sound installations, video corridors—he is constantly shifting between all these and more, never conforming to a signature style. But underneath this sheer variety, crucial themes persist, and disappearance has been one such recurring impulse over his 50-year career.

Disappearing Acts traces what Nauman has called “withdrawal as an art form”—both literal and figurative incidents of removal, deflection, and concealment. Bodies are fragmented, centers are left empty, voices emanate from hidden speakers, and the artist sculpts himself in absentia, appearing only as negative space. The retrospective charts these forms of omission and loss across media and throughout the decades, following Nauman as he circles back to earlier concerns with new urgency. Presented in two complementary parts, at The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, this is the most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work ever assembled.

The exhibition was on view at Schaulager, Basel, March 17–August 26, 2018.

Artworks were made to the specifications of the artist. Please be advised that some artworks involve purposefully tight spaces that may be difficult to maneuver.

Organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Laurenz Foundation, Schaulager Basel.

The exhibition is organized by Kathy Halbreich, Laurenz Foundation Curator and Advisor to the Director, The Museum of Modern Art; with Heidi Naef, Chief Curator, and Isabel Friedli, Curator, Schaulager Basel; and Magnus Schaefer, Assistant Curator, and Taylor Walsh, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Museum of Modern Art.

The exhibition is made possible by Laurenz Foundation, Schaulager Basel.

Leadership support is provided by The Sandra and Tony Tamer Exhibition Fund.

Major support is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art and by The Jill and Peter Kraus Endowed Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions.

Generous funding is provided by The Hayden Family Foundation, Sully Bonnelly and Robert R. Littman, Ellen and William Taubman, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, and by LLWW Foundation.

Additional support is provided by the MoMA PS1 Annual Exhibition Fund and by The Museum of Modern Art's Annual Exhibition Fund with major contributions from the Estate of Ralph L. Riehle, Alice and Tom Tisch, Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, Brett and Daniel Sundheim, Karen and Gary Winnick, The Marella and Giovanni Agnelli Fund for Exhibitions, and Oya and Bülent Eczacıbaşı.

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