Above: Bruce Nauman, 1971

(Frank J. Thomas / Courtesy)

Alumnus Artist’s Return

by | Sep 18, 2018 | Culture, On Campus

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis, will feature the work of accomplished artist Bruce Nauman, M.F.A. ’66, in its fall 2018–19 season opening exhibit.

Bruce Nauman: Blue and Yellow Corridor, on view Sept. 27 – Dec. 16, is the first realization of an ambitious corridor installation that Nauman initially conceived of in 1970-71. The Manetti Shrem Museum brings Nauman’s work home to the place where he served as teaching assistant to Wayne Thiebaud and befriended William T. Wiley, both of whom were first-generation art faculty on campus.

Since the mid-1960s, Nauman has produced a prolific and radically innovative body of work that has expanded the very boundaries of what art can be. More than two decades ago, then-New York Times chief art critic Michael Kimmelman noted, “[Nauman] may be the most influential American artist around.”

The first comprehensive retrospective of his work in over 20 years, Disappearing Acts, was on view at Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland, this spring and summer. The exhibit opens in October at The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 in New York.

The centerpiece of the Manetti Shrem Museum exhibition is a large-scale, participatory environment: a narrow corridor with yellow and blue fluorescent light that wraps around three sides of an existing room. The architectural installation forces visitors into a state of heightened self-consciousness and disorientation through its spatial constrictions, closed-circuit video, and bright light.

Nauman’s corridors grew out of a series of solitary performances the artist staged for the camera in his studio during the late 1960s. The first corridor, Performance Corridor (1969), originated as a prop for the video performance Walk with Contrapposto (1968), in which the artist is seen moving slowly up and down a 20-inch-wide passageway. This video is featured in the current exhibition, along with his original drawings for Blue and Yellow Corridor and a selection of works from Nauman’s time at UC Davis that anticipate many of the themes of the corridors.