Bruce Nauman Drawings: 1965 - 1986
September 11 – November 8 1987
For Bruce Nauman drawing is equivalent to thinking. From 1966, when he left the University of California at Davis, until about 1969, when he alternated between traveling in Europe and working in his studio in Mill Valley, he drew mostly small, quick sketches that served as notes for sculptures or diagrams for films, videotapes, and performances. Nauman drew these in pencil while sitting at his desk; they were like writing. At the same time he made larger drawings in which he tried to solve the execution of a sculpture or imagine how it would work out. Occasionally, Nauman would make a representational drawing of a work after it had been executed, reasoning that ‘when I take distance I can see aspects of the work that did not appear before, but which now seem the most important.’ Nauman approaches his projects systematically, even if he often pushes their inner logic into absurdity.“
-Coosje van Bruggen, Bruce Nauman Drawings: 1965-1986 (Basel: Museum für Gegenwartskunst, 1986).
“Known primarily as a sculptor and inventor of spatial installations, Bruce Nauman has also worked in video, film, photography, sound and language. In this exhibition, all of Nauman’s ideas were explored through his drawings, which are invested with a wide range of functions and are, especially for this artist, the visual equivalent to thinking. For instance, some works are provisional sketches which serve as notes for sculptures, or diagrams for films, videotapes and performances. Others are fabrication drawings for large sculptural installations and neon pieces, often including pertinent instructions. Nauman’s drawings frequently have a raw and unfinished look; corrections, erasures, dense undecipherable areas that indicate struggle—all signs of the artist’s mental process—are still visible. More than 75 works on paper, some never before exhibited in the United States, were included in this retrospective.”
-From The New Museum Annual Report, 1988
Traveling exhibition organized by Dieter Koepplin, Chief Curator of Prints and Drawings, Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel, and Coosje van Bruggen; coordinated for presentation at The New Museum by Marcia Tucker