For artist Bruce Nauman, known primarily for neon, video and installation work, a transient upbringing amidst his father’s engineering work for General Electric, and undergraduate studies in mathematics and physics, served to inspire art by way of fabrication and concept, and not the other way around— the idea that art should be expressive seems to be a blissful side effect in his raw, honest and beautifully distilled communications, which are powerful enough to shift a viewer’s complete orientation at mere first glance.
By the time he went to grad school for art he had already given up painting in favor of other media. After graduating and confronted with "What to do?" in his studio, Nauman’s solution came to him— “If I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art. At this point art became more of an activity and less of a product.” Thus began his experimentation with verbalizing the nature of the human condition, with defiant and emotional performances captured in film and photography, breathtaking sculpture, heartbreaking large-scale installations, and sometimes even with actual words, as reshaping the thought patterns following language appears amongst his favorite and oft-visited subjects. Though much of his work seems to inhabit a dark and even nihilistic sector of commentary, it is not a far stretch to find an irrepressible humor and a certain lightness in the execution, as if rather than insisting life is doomed to fail, he is merely pointing out the uncanny and inexplicable nature of the reality in which we find ourselves thrust, thereby carving somehow an altogether upbeat perspective.