Bruce Nauman Human/Need/Desire 1983

  • Not on view

Words relating to human want light up in a pulsing cycle, continually evoking and replacing meaning. By offering words and taking them away, this work disrupts viewers' habits of perception. Nauman believes that language is "a very powerful tool"; he was inspired to use neon tubing because of the convincing messages and hypnotic aura of neon advertisements. Here, with irony, the artist uses this flashing commercial medium—with all its wires exposed—to address fundamental elements of human experience.

Gallery label from 2007.
Neon tubing and wire with glass tubing suspension frames
7' 10 3/8" x 70 1/2" x 25 3/4" (239.8 x 179 x 65.4 cm)
Gift of Emily and Jerry Spiegel
Object number
© 2024 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture

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