Perhaps Bruce Nauman's most recognizable works are those in which he uses his own body in quirky ways, either through movement or by manipulating specific body parts. He developed this approach to artmaking while working as a teaching assistant for painter Wayne Thiebaud at the University of California, Davis. As Nauman watched students working from a live model, it occurred to him that drawing another person did not make any sense when an artist had his or her own body with which to work. In 1967, Nauman began making a series of films that used his body as both subject an object, starting with a short titled Thighing, which records the artist pulling the skin on his thigh.
For Bouncing in the Corner No. 1, Nauman turned the camera sideways and positioned it so that his head is cropped from the frame and his body is visible only from neck to ankles. As he stands in the corner, his back to the wall, he appears to be lying down. Almost as though he is trying to levitate himself, he falls backwards into the corner and then pushes himself off the wall again. While Nauman performs these actions, his hands slam into the wall to break his falls, and the sounds become a soundtrack for film. In both works, the sounds associated with Nauman's actions are critical to success of the videosthey covey a sense of place and suggest that the artist is physically and theoretically grounded despite his seemingly nonsensical behavior.
A related video work, Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk), 2009.14.1, is also in the museum's collection.
From acquisition narrative, 2009, by Douglas Fogle and Karin Campbell
Title: Artist Bio: Nauman, Bruce
Indiana native Bruce Nauman received his BS from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1964 and his MFA from the University of California, Davis in 1964. From 1966 to 1968, he taught at San Francisco Art Institute and in 1970 at the University of California, Irvine. Nauman has recently been featured in solo exhibitions at venues including Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2009); Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Berkeley Art Museum (both in 2008); Castello di Rivoli Museum d'Arte Contemporanea, Torino, The Menil Collection, Houston, and Musee d'Art Contemporain, Montreal (all in 2007); Tate Modern (2004); Ludwig Museum, Cologne (2003); DIA Center for the Arts (2002); Centre George Pompidou, Paris (1997); and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1993). He has recently appeared in group exhibitions at venues such as Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Fundación/Colección Jumex, Mexico City, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (all in 2008); CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco (2007-2008); Dallas Museum of Art (2007); Nationalgaleria Hamburger Bahnhof and Kunsthaus Zürich (both in 2006); Barbican Art Gallery, London (2005); and Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (both in 2004). In addition to being included in the 1991 Carnegie International, Nauman's recent biennial appearances include Biennale of Sydney (2008); Münster Skulptur Projekte (2007); Magasin 3, Stockholm (2006); and Venice Biennale (2005, 2007).
—From acquisition narrative, 2009, by Douglas Fogle and Karin Campbell
Purpose: artist bio
Author: Fogle, Douglas - CMOA