The American Bruce Nauman, born in Fort Wayne (Indiana) in 1941, is one of the most multifaceted artists of the past fifty years and, as such, barely fits in any one specific artistic category. After his first period of study that included natural science, Nauman completed a course in fine art. He masters the technical skills of painting and drawing as well as sculpture and new media. His intention is frequently that of obvious provocation, but he also plays with less conspicuous conceptual references or interdisciplinary relations, such as with literary or musical associations.
The central theme in Bruce Nauman’s work in the Brandhorst Collection is the interpersonal encounter in its psychological and physiological dynamic. The artist explores the function of the body and its different parts, such as hands or heads, and the role played by violence or sexuality, in works on paper (Big Welcome, 1985, All Thumbs, 1996), in plaster (All Thumbs, 1996), wax (Two Heads on Base #1, 1989) and in a video sequence (Violent Incident, 1986). In his neon sculpture Mean Clown Welcome (1985), a major work, Nauman takes such subjects to an extreme.