Bruce Nauman

Corridor with Mirror and White Lights


Not on display

Bruce Nauman born 1941
Wood, glass and fluorescent tubes
Interior corridor: 3048 × 178 × 12192mm
Exterior corridor: 3048 × 308 × 12192mm
Purchased 1973

Display caption

In his corridor pieces, Nauman’s sculpture assumes the dimensions of architecture. The spaces are often claustrophobic yet they seem to extend indefinitely, like a corridor seen in a dream. Here, the sense of infinite extension is created by a mirror set at an angle at the end of the corridor. The width of the corridor has been narrowed so that it is impossible to walk through it, thereby heightening the sense of eerie isolation.

Gallery label, October 2016

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Catalogue entry

Bruce Nauman born 1941

T01753 Corridor with Mirror and White Lights 1971

Not inscribed
Wood, composition board, fluorescent lights and mirror, approx. 120 x 7 x 480 (305 x 17.8 x 1220)
Purchased from the Galerie Konrad Fischer (Grant-in-Aid) 1973
Prov: With Galerie Konrad Fischer, Düsseldorf (purchased from the artist)
Exh: Bruce Nauman, Galerie Konrad Fischer, Düsseldorf, March 1971 (no catalogue); Amerikansk Kunst 1950-70, Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, September-October 1971 (42, repr.); Bruce Nauman: Work from 1965 to 1972, Los Angeles County Museum, December 1972-February 1973 (67, repr.); Whitney Museum, New York, March-April 1973 (67, repr.); Bruce Nauman: Werke von 1965 bis 1972, Kunsthalle, Bern, June-August 1973 (67, repr.); Overzichtstenroonstelling Bruce Nauman, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, October-November 1973 (67, repr.)
Lit: Willoughby Sharp, 'Nauman Interview' in Arts, XLIV, March 1970, pp.23-6; Marcia Tucker, 'PheNAUMANology' in Artforum, IX, December 1970, pp.38-40; Willoughby Sharp, 'Bruce Nauman' in Avalanche, No.2, Winter 1971, p.23

Nauman's first corridor was made in 1969 and consisted of two parallel walls 20in apart, 8ft in height and 20ft in length (51 x 244 x 610cm). It was originally built in his studio as a prop for a videotape in which he walked slowly towards and away from the camera in a stylised way, with his hands clasped behind his neck. Then in May-July 1969 it was constructed in the Whitney Museum, New York, under the title 'Performance Corridor' as part of the exhibition Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials. The visitors were allowed to enter the work, which was closed at one end, and thereby became performers within it. This idea was further elaborated in an installation which he made in January 1970 for the Nicholas Wilder Gallery in Los Angeles, consisting of a series of wallboard panels running parallel along the length of the gallery. Cameras and videotape monitors were set up in such a way that a person walking the length of one corridor and turning into the next would see himself on a monitor only as he turned the corner. The corridors varied in width, so that some could be entered and some not. Then in May 1970 (for instance) he made a V-shaped corridor at San José State College, California, 2ft (61cm) wide at the beginning and narrowing down to about 16in (40.5cm), with a mirror at the end a little less than 5 1/2ft (167.5cm) high, so that a person about the same height as himself walking into the piece would see his own reflection cut off at the neck. Other later corridors included a 'Green Light Corridor' designed in 1970-1 which was 12in wide, with walls 10ft high and 40ft long (30.5 x 305 x 1220cm). This was open at both ends but had one end within 3 or 4ft (91.5 or 122cm) of a room wall. The interior was painted white and was illuminated by a row of green fluorescent tubes along the top.

The present work resembles 'Green Light Corridor' in its proportions but is closed at one end by a mirror 7ft (213.5cm) high, set at an angle of very nearly 5 degrees off square either to the right or to the left, so that when one looks down the corridor it appears to bend either to the right or the left. Moreover the fluorescent tubes mounted just below the top edges of the walls are white. When first constructed it was made (like 'Green Light Corridor') 12in (30.5cm) wide, which made it possible for people who were not too bulky to edge their way down it. As they got close to the end, they suddenly saw their own reflection in the mirror. However the artist states (letter of 15 May 1973 to Konrad Fischer) that it was not his intention that people should enter this particular work. 'In New York at the Whitney Museum, I built the piece narrower ... due to a particular installation problem (7in wide by 10ft by 40ft) and I liked the piece much better and so far as I know, no-one attempted to enter this space. I would suggest that the Tate build the piece to these dimensions and I would prefer it so.' Instead of being a 'performance area', it becomes a space which is inaccessible and which appears to extend out of sight. It has also sometimes been known as 'Corridor with Reflected Image'.

The Gallery has a documentation drawing by the artist showing how the work should be constructed. It can be built up against an existing wall, or it can be set further into the room or used as a divider between two rooms. The artist writes (August 1973): 'The inside dimensions should be seven inches wide by a minimum of 40 feet long by at least 10 feet high. It does not help much to make it longer than 40 feet, but if your ceiling is higher than 10 feet, it is possible and interesting to extend the piece in that dimension.' The outside is left rough to show the construction.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.552-3, reproduced p.552

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