Press Release

Bruce Nauman ARTIST ROOMS exhibition opens at Tate Modern


Bruce Nauman
ARTIST ROOMS, Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Lent by Anthony d’Offay 2010
© ARS, NY and DACS, London 2017

ARTIST ROOMS: Bruce Nauman, the latest in the series of annual free exhibitions in the dedicated ARTIST ROOMS gallery in Tate Modern’s Blavatnik building, has opened to the public and will run until July 2018. Complementing the show is Nauman’s enigmatic sound installation Raw Materials, his acclaimed 2004 Unilever Series commission, which has returned to Tate’s Turbine Hall for summer 2017.

The dedicated gallery is the London hub of the ARTIST ROOMS Touring Programme. Since its inception in 2009, ARTIST ROOMS has worked with regional museums on one hundred and seventy free exhibitions of contemporary art across the UK, from Orkney to the Isle of Wight.

Bruce Nauman (b. 1941) is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential American artists working today. Since the 1960s, his pioneering exploration of different media, in often funny, absurd or disturbing ways, has challenged conventions and had a profound impact on generations of artists internationally. Tate’s ARTIST ROOMS exhibition of almost thirty works spans the artist’s career with neons, video works, sculpture and works on paper.

Throughout the early 1970s and 1980s, Nauman created several neon sculptures that combined word play and bold colour to give alternative meaning to everyday phrases and expressions. A number of outstanding examples of these have been brought together including La Brea/Art Tips/Rat Spit/Tar Pits 1972, Run From Fear, Fun from Rear 1972, VIOLINS VIOLENCE SILENCE 1981-2 and Double Poke in the Eye II 1985. All demonstrate Nauman’s witty and insightful exploration of the human condition.

Nauman’s own body became an important reference point in his work, whether performing in videos, or being cast to form part of a sculpture, such as the iconic Henry Moore Bound to Fail 1967/1970, which has not been exhibited in the UK for almost thirty years. He exposes the body’s vulnerability, as well as the human potential for violence and our need to communicate. The exhibition includes the important video work Raw Material with Continuous Shift – MMMM 1991, featuring video material of Nauman’s own head continuously rotating while emitting humming sounds. This landmark piece lures and unnerves the viewer with his trademark intensity.

Sound and the human voice are significant aspects of his artistic approach, be it using his own voice or employing actors to perform unsettling and humorous scenarios. Disrupting the traditionally quiet space of the gallery, Nauman has said he wants the experience of his work to be ‘like getting hit in the face with a baseball bat. Or better, like getting hit in the back of the neck. You never see it coming; it just knocks you down.’

The exhibition also features rare works on paper, as well as ground-breaking video works such as Raw Material Washing Hands 1996 and, from the Tate Collection, Good Boy Bad Boy 1985, in which actors hypnotically recite a catalogue of phrases. The iconic Violent Incident 1986, where a couple’s dinner descends into a cycle of destruction, is played on a loop across twelve monitors.

Raw Materials, the sound installation created for the Turbine Hall in 2004 and subsequently acquired for the Tate collection, brings together 22 fragments of speech recorded over 40 years, transmitted from 22 speakers mounted on the walls. Walking through the Turbine Hall the visitor is encouraged to listen as a discord of voices relay incessant thoughts, exclamatory commands and rhythmic chants.

The ARTIST ROOMS gallery opened in the Blavatnik Building on 17 June 2016 with an exhibition of Louise Bourgeois and will continue to present exhibitions drawn from the work of the forty artists in the ARTIST ROOMS collection. The ARTIST ROOMS collection is owned jointly by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland and was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and the Scottish and British Governments.

ARTIST ROOMS: Bruce Nauman is curated by Ann Coxon, Curator of Displays and International Art, Tate. Bruce Nauman: Raw Materials in the Turbine Hall is curated by Valentina Ravaglia, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern.

Notes to Editors

Bruce Nauman

Bruce Nauman was born in 1941 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He studied mathematics, physics, art and music at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and now lives and works in New Mexico. His work is in private and public collections worldwide, including Tate, the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. A major retrospective, organised by The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, travelled throughout America and Europe (1993-1995). Recent solo exhibitions have included Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2015). Nauman received the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999 and the Praemium Imperiale in 2004 in Japan. He represented the United States at the 2009 Venice Biennale and was the 2014 laureate of the Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize.

Artist Rooms
ARTIST ROOMS is a collection of more than 1,600 works of modern and contemporary art, displayed across the UK in dedicated solo exhibitions that showcase the work of 40 major artists. It was founded through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, when Anthony d’Offay gifted the collection to Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland on behalf of the public, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and the Scottish and British Governments. To date, 151 exhibitions have been presented at 77 museums and galleries around the UK, from Penzance to the Hebrides, from Kilmarnock to Hull, from Belfast to Llandudno. ARTIST ROOMS gives young people the chance to discover more about art and artists, and to develop new skills and confidence through being involved in creative projects. The current ARTIST ROOMS programme is delivered through a partnership between National Galleries of Scotland, Tate and lead Associate Ferens Art Gallery until spring 2019, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Art Fund and by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

Arts Council England
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

Art Fund
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, including ARTIST ROOMS and the 2013-18 Aspire tour of Tate's Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows by John Constable, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at

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