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Bruce Nauman

All Thumbs

Information about the artwork

  • Year1996
  • Inventory numberUAB 307
  • On viewCurrently not exhibited

for kids (and anyone else who is curious!)

Thumbs up or thumbs down? What would you do if your hands were made only of thumbs! Could you still do everything just as well as with ten different fingers? What if only one was missing or there was one too many? Would you be able to grasp, eat, draw, tie a bow as well as usual? What would work better? What would simply be different?

Bruce Nauman’s hands are made of plaster and it seems as if all fingers have been replaced by thumbs. The hand is very often a theme in the work of the American conceptual artist. In drawings, prints, photographs, or in video works, he repeatedly makes it his key figure. He is particularly interested in the functions the hand can have as an artist’s tool: It shapes a work, creates, designs and defines. The hand is a symbol of craftsmanship and dexterity. But that’s not all: by repeatedly incorporating unusual, sometimes disturbing elements, the artist also draws attention to the following: As useful as hands can be most of the time, they sometimes come across as clumsy. We just don’t have everything under control all the time!

This way to the Factory

Further artworks

Artwork: "Untitled" from Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly Untitled, 2004 yes Upper floor
Artwork: "Studio (Lexington, VA)" from Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly Studio (Lexington, VA), 2003 yes Upper floor
Artwork: "Al and Tom" from Alex Katz
Alex Katz Al and Tom, 1969 yes Ground floor
Artwork: "Untitled (New York City)" from Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly Untitled (New York City), 1968 yes Upper floor
Artwork: "Untitled (Roses)" from Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly Untitled (Roses), 2008 yes Upper floor