Bruce Nauman

Bruce Nauman, Yellow Room (Triangular), 1973

Bruce Nauman, Yellow Room (Triangular), 1973. Original installation. Installation view: Yellow Body, Konrad Fischer Galerie, Düsseldorf, February 4–March 6, 1974

Bruce Nauman, Yellow Room (Triangular),1973

Bruce Nauman, Yellow Room (Triangular), 1973. Installation view: Test Site, Mass MoCA, North Adams, Mass., May 27, 1999–April 30, 2000. Photo: Ellen Labenski

The Guggenheim's Panza Collection contains a broad representation of Bruce Nauman's work from the 1960s and 1970s. These works include interactive corridors and room environments (some of which incorporate closed-circuit video or audio components) as well as several early Post-Minimalist objects, one film-based installation, and one neon language piece.

The 32 works raise a wide range of questions regarding preservation and display. Many of Nauman’s corridors and room installations, for example, have been variably refabricated over time. In most instances, Nauman sanctioned these changes to the works, but decisions were sometimes made without the participation of the artist, altering the pieces in fundamental ways. In the case of Yellow Room (Triangular) (1973), for example, Panza fabricated a version in 1980 on the basis of very general instructions provided by Nauman, and this refabrication differed significantly from the original 1974 installation at Konrad Fischer Galerie, Düsseldorf: not only were the exterior walls more highly finished, but the interior was left unpainted (rather than painted white), resulting in a less intense yellow light. When Panza’s version was replicated at Mass MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), North Adams, in 1999, Nauman expressed his concern over these and other aspects of the work, supplying the Guggenheim Museum with a set of new, more specific guidelines. With a number of other rooms and corridors in the Panza holdings, there is, therefore, a need to establish general parameters for future fabrications and installations. Given the nature of such works, which are designed to create specific situations or forms of encounter, future standards will strike a balance between historical specificity (sometimes of greater concern to curators than to the artist, whose criteria can change markedly over time) and logistical demands, which often vary from one setting to the next. Related issues apply to works with media components, such as video or film, or monitors showing live-feed: as equipment and technology change over time, so does the appearance, behavior, and affect of the technological image.

See a selection of Nauman's work in the Collection Online.


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Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung, Four Pieces (of White), 2012

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